Poor Jura. It's the scotch distillery equivalent of that old expression, "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride."
No matter what bottle you choose among Jura's offerings, the consensus seems to be that they're fine. Not good, not great. Just fine. From the 10-year Jura expression to the Prophecy, one of the more expensive bottles of what they regularly offer, it's almost baffling that everything seems to be just under where it would need to be to make a good first impression. And let me be honest: I really want to root for the underdog, but they make that task harder than I'd prefer.
Let's deal with a lot of the good here. The Prophecy is not at all a bad whisky. In fact, I think it's easily the best of the core Jura range. It's very well-rounded, with lots of caramel and fig that intermingles with some very strong maple bacon and blackberries. At 46% ABV, Jura is giving us a full-flavored whisky that swims very well with just a splash of water, bringing out even more of the BBQ and fruit. The Island of Jura that gives the distillery its name is within spitting distance of Islay, so a lot of the maritime and smoky qualities you might expect are well-represented here.
While the Prophecy advertises itself as being "heavily peated," it really isn't anything of the sort in comparison to Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Talisker, or Laphroaig. I actually found this to be less peaty than Jura's own "Superstition" expression, which despite being branded as "lightly peated" was far ashier to my palate. That's actually not a bad thing at all: I liked that the other flavors in the Prophecy were more pronounced.
Hell, I even dig the branding and presentation. It's nice to see a distinctive bottle, and all of the vaguely celtic / eastern mysticism that clings to the packaging is fairly neato in my book. Ankhs, eyeballs, runes, whatever—bring 'em on. I think we've seen enough pencil sketches of sleepy distilleries and the rivers next to them.
The problem with the Prophecy, however, is something that plagues the rest of the range: the value just isn't there. Maybe Jura needs to charge the $70 they're asking for the Prophecy considering it's a limited yearly run of 10,000 or so bottles worldwide. But at that level, it's competing with all of the peaty Islay stalwarts like Ardbeg 10, Talisker 10, and Caol Ila 12—whiskies I would argue are much better and are about $15 less, on average. To me, an asking price of seventy bucks is just expensive enough for a bottle to eliminate it from consideration as a daily drinker or house bottle, and judged as a "special occasion" kind of dram, it really isn't all that special.
It's also non-age stated, which of course doesn't detract from the inherent quality of the whisky (it certainly doesn't taste young). However, if you can't give me something at cask strength (a'la Ardbeg Corryvreckan) for the extra spend, I'd like to at least know where my money actually went.
All in all, the Prophecy is a good whisky, but one that's a little muddled. It's pricey enough to set a high bar for your expectations, but not good enough to reach it. It's self-aware enough to gun for an island taste profile, but not bold enough to steal customers from long-standing favorites.
I didn't regret the purchase of my bottle, but now that it's dwindling down to its last few pours, I think I can live with the hole it will leave on the shelf.