About Jura

Learn more about our beautiful island

Welcome To Jura)

Where is Jura?

Once described by George Orwell as, “THE MOST UN-GET-AT-ABLE PLACE”, Jura is now a little easier to get to than in the past, but still requires a little patience on stormy days! You’ll find our shores just to the north east of Islay. Even though we’re only 60 miles from the mainland, it feels like an entire world away and there are a few options to choose from depending on whether you prefer to drive, fly or sail.

Life on the Isle of Jura

Scotland has many islands, but you’ll find that the Isle of Jura is like no other. At the last count, the population of Jura came to 212, interspersed among 6000 Red Deer. So it’s fair to say, we’re somewhat outnumbered. There is just one single track road that runs from the ferry at Feolin up to the north just south of the Ardlussa estate. This road connects everything on Jura to the small village of Craighouse, where you’ll find the hotel, pub, café, community story and of course, the whisky distillery. The islanders love nothing better than making our guests feel welcome and you’ll discover plenty to keep you entertained in Craighouse and further afield.

Ancient Jura

Jura is one of the wildest and most beautiful places in Scotland, with a unique history all of its own. To begin the story of the diurachs (a native of Jura is known in Scots Gaelic as a diurach) we have to go back. Way back to around 11000-8000BC in fact, as that’s when archaeologists believe that the island was first inhabited. Moving onto 4000BC and into the Neolithic period (or ‘the new stone age’) Jura gave birth to very early forests, comprising of mainly Birch Trees. This was also when people started using more advanced stone and bronze tools and creating pottery. Their way of life changed from hunters and gatherers to farmers, though whisky production was still a long way off! By around 2000BC much of the original forest was gone, cleared by the agricultural work.

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Jura in the dark ages

From 750BC to 1000AD and Jura entered the Iron Age and then onto the dark ages.

It was somewhere within this period that the legends associated with the Corryvreckan Whirlpool came to emerge. The most famous tells of a Scandinavian prince, who was in love with the daughter of a noble family.

To win her hand in marriage, Breakan (the prince) was challenged by her father to anchor his boat for three nights in the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. What happened to the brave prince? Buy a diurach a dram and we’re sure we’ll happily share the tale with you!

Jura in the Viking Period

Although no evidence remains of viking raids or viking settlements on the island of Jura (or perhaps it is simply yet to be found), the island was under Norse control during the viking era, being ruled from across the sea on the Isle of Man. In fact, the island is believed to owe its name to the vikings. Dyrøy is a word from Old Norse language meaning ‘Deer Island’, a title still appropriate to the present day. The other theory around the island’s name also derives from Old Norse. The word Jurøy means ‘Udder Island’ and has been linked to the island’s famous hills, The Paps of Jura. Viking domination of the Hebrides lasted until the legendary warrior Somerled, who had both Norse and Gaelic ancestry, brought about the creation of the Kingdom of Argyll and the Isles through a mixture of his military prowess and clever political use of marital alliances. Somerled’s descendants became known as the Lords of the Isles, but the final demise of their power came in the early 1600s.

Jura up to the Present Day

From then on, the island became a more official part of the Kingdom of Scotland, with the strongest day-to-day influence coming from the lairds of Clan Campbell. This situation lasted until 1938, when Charles Campbell, the last Laird of Jura, sold the remaining parts of the Jura Estate and houses. In more recent events, Eric Blair, more famously known by his pen name of George Orwell, lived on Jura from 1946 to 1948. And while he was here, he managed to write a novel you may have heard of. It’s called, 1984. Of course, Jura is also home to an eponymous and iconic whisky distillery. In 1810, Archibald Campbell licensed a whisky distillery on the island, continuing a proud but up to then largely illicit tradition for the island. In the 1700s, locals had reportedly already begun showcasing their skills and initiative by distilling rowan berries. The original Jura distillery lasted until 1901 before a challenging whisky market forced its closure. Thankfully, in 1963 Jura was returned to the whisky map through the efforts of local landowners, Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith, together with Charles MacKinlay & Co. (Leith Based bottlers) and William Delmé-Evans (Distillery designer). The distillery is now owned by Whyte & Mackay and now produces and ships Jura Single Malt Scotch whisky for people to enjoy around the world.

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