There is a fabled isle shrouded in mist, where stories are told around the fire of an unearthly spirit - Yes! we've arrived on Jura and this unearthly spirit is Lussa Gin. It hails from Ardlussa on the pointy top part of the island and is a gin-child with three mothers - lucky blighter! Jura is famous for many things: it is where Orwell wrote his dystopic '1984'; it's twin peaks are called the Paps; and just off the coast, lying in wait, is the Corryvreckan - like a jurassic jacuzzi. Now it adds gin to its other famous spirit of Jura Malt.
Jura is a step back in time - where people greet you with a smile and friendliness abounds. They even point with glee as the old bus parps along the road, and join in the fun when we need a kick start and a push. The terrain speaks of a romantic time with red deer and golden eagles, fat seals surfing and if you're lucky and oh so quiet otters squeak with mirth in solitary lochs. Not that I got any time for that and the noise from the bus would scare a bat off, even if it lived on another continent. So off on the road we go, and I mean that singularity - Jura only seems to have one road! I want to find somewhere quiet to enjoy a gin.
Oh, and Molly Dog did make it back to the bus before sailing, so the wired-haired window licker is with us as we settle down near Loch ..., Loch? Loch NaeName and get out our bottle of Lussa Gin. The bottle is dressed in a beguiling label that throws a 3D shape and the neck endeared with a wee tweed scarf. It's 42% ABV and on the island of its birth it just gives a sense of placement to this ruggedly modern gin.
Now is the time I usually wax lyrical on the botanics and this one is certainly a challenge for we have at least 14 of them and getting them into some order to make me coherent is a triumph in its self. Let's start with the usual suspects - Juniper, of course, is the base to our triangle, and snuggling in close is a friendly wave from our old pal Bog Myrtle then up pops the Scot's Pine needle - this little fellow gives a pine accent to bolster the Juniper and give a fresh forested area to the lower register. The top shelf has a cluster of citrus notes from some unlikely sources: Lemon Balm and Lemon Thyme giving a herbal sherbet touch and an appearance from Water Mint freshens it all with a twang. Orris works its magic to bind everything and then in the middle we get a surprise. For Lussa Gin is power driven from the middle level - giving us a new angle to gin on this blog. In fact, the middle is going to get its own paragraph.
There is coriander seed to give spice and roundness with an orange halo then in comes a parade of summer botanicals that sing in close harmony: powers of Honeysuckle, Elderflower, sweet balance from Lime Flowers and Rose Petals, Rose hips adding a fruity smoothness and Ground Elder. I cannot lie to you and say that you'll discern each of these in the smell or the taste, that is not the point, the point is the balance and Lussa scares me with its execution of a daring high wire act. Round, warm, fruited and a little spice - but there is something else. This else comes from Sea Lettuce, the sweetness is punctuated with a brine edge and it is exquisite, like salted fudge - it's wrong in the brain but right on the taste buds.
If you were me, and I know you're not, you'd sip this neat and warm - no ice - so as to experience the warmth of its middle. If a G&T needs to be had then take a light Fever-tree, or for a long hiball add a splash of rose cordial to the tonic or just top with rose lemonade. I could recommend what to mix this with for a sophisticated looking cocktail like a Jurapolitan - but I must be true to my feelings this is a gin that demands to be kept simple. Like the good people on Jura - approachable, friendly and warm - so is Lussa.
This is what I term a connoisseur gin - one for enjoying on its own terms it has depth that will repay you for nurturing it and taking your time with. As I should have said earlier "Take a sip back in time".
Now, let's not forget Molly - the wired haired terrorist has been bog snorkelling long enough. Time to get her into the loch with some Vosene. Then back to the Gin Bus as we are on a mission. All will be revealed shortly.