I posted a written version of the Oban review over at reddit.com/r/scotch, and I thought I would post it up here as well, cuz… why not?
Oban is a town and distillery I had the opportunity to visit, and I found that the town and the spirit had a remarkably similar quality. Like the malt, the town bore the marks of being seaside and windswept, but for being a tourist destination, it was also remarkably restrained and subdued. There’s a quiet, understated sense of comfort about the town of Oban. They, like their namesake distillery, know what they’re about, and they get about their business with a quiet confidence.
Oban 14 Year Old – 43% ABV – $109.95 CAD
Nose: Cereal, malt-forward. A little sweet honey with distinct notes of apple, pear and fresh citrus.
Palate: Surprisingly heavy on the tongue with sweet malt immediately on the arrival. A sense of light heather, fresh lemon, and a light touch of berry (bumbleberry?). Through it all, a definite underlying sea-salt minerality.
Finish: Pleasantly long with spicy smoke creeping into the finish. Other flavours fade away, but the nutty sea-salt sticks around.
I have friends that swear by Oban 14 as their go-to malt, and others that want nothing to do with it, and just consider it boring. I understand both sides… I quite enjoy a dram of this, but it’s never an experience that blows me away. There are plenty of other single malts that deliver me far more tasting notes, but not many that deliver them as distincly as Oban 14. As I said above, the distillery seems to know the strengths of its product and confidently puts them forward.
Like the town, in many ways subdued and unassuming, but confident in its intrinsic appeal and quality.