For the second instalment of our Island Hopping with Scottish Gin series we’ve headed west from Bute, across Kintyre to the Isle of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and the home of Lussa Drinks Company.
Jura lies adjacent and northeast of Islay and is 142 square miles in area making it the eighth largest island in Scotland. However, with a population of only 196 people at the 2011 census, it is one the least densely populated islands in Scotland.
While the human population is sparse, there is no shortage of deer on the island with over 6000 of them! The name Jura actually comes from Old Norse and means ‘deer island’.
The economy of Jura centres around the island’s seven estates, tourism and distilling.
Distilling on Jura
There are two active distilleries with Jura Distillery being the island’s biggest individual employer.
Jura Distillery was originally established in 1810 by the Laird of Jura, Archibald Campbell and remained in the family until 1853. Ownership of the distillery changed several times until it eventually closed in 1901.
It lay in disrepair until the 1950s when two local estate owners, Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith, devised plans to rebuild and expand the distillery in a bid to revive the economy on Jura. The expansion also allowed for taller stills which meant the distillery could produce a mix of malts. Jura Distillery reopened in 1963.
In 1995 the distillery was bought by the Glasgow based Whyte and Mackay, now owned by Emperador Inc. who are based in the Philippines.
Jura Distillery was joined by another distillery in 2015 when Lussa Drinks Company opened its doors.
Lussa Drinks Company
Lussa Drinks Company was set up by three friends who, along with their families, are amongst the 30 inhabitants of the north of the island.
Bound by their spirit of adventure, Alicia Macinnes, Claire Fletcher and Georgina Kitching decided they wanted to share a new adventure together and, after a chance conversation, they combined their skills to set up a gin distillery in Ardlussa, one of Jura’s seven estates.
Encouraged by their shared love of Jura and supported by the local community, the distillery was opened. In the distillery you will find ‘Jim’, the traditional handcrafted Portuguese copper still.
Lussa Gin was first launched in August 2016 and is very much a celebration of the island and its wild terrain. All the botanicals are grown and gathered by the team. This is made slightly easier as the distillery is right in the middle of an abundance of botanicals. However, the wild weather of the west coast is not always friendly!
A total of 15 botanicals are combined to give Lussa Gin its unique flavour. You’ll find traditional botanicals such as juniper, orris root and coriander seed with lemon thyme, rose petals, lemon balm leaves, lime flowers, elderflower, honeysuckle flowers, bog myrtle, water mint leaves, sea lettuce, Scots pine needles, ground elder leaves and rosehip.
The result is a fresh and zingy gin which is balanced with the pine notes of juniper, a touch of warmth from the coriander seed and the smoothness of roses.
Each of the team have a favourite serve of Lussa Gin. Alicia enjoys her gin neat, on the rocks with a sliver of lemon. Claire’s serve of choice is a classic G&T with a neutral tonic and a sprig of lemon balm while Georgina likes Lussa Gin with soda water, ice and a rose petal.
To find out more about or to try Lussa Gin for yourself, click on the link below.