Found on the rugged west coast of Scotland, Oban Distillery is the distillery that spawned a whole town.
Representing the West Highlands in Diageo’s Classic malts,Oban was first founded in 1794 by Hugh, John and James Stevenson.
The distillery was built beneath a towering and magnificent cliff, and Oban town and Port was eventually built around it. This is a testament to the thriving economies that distilleries supported and set up in the early days of distilling.
The town itself is known as the gate to the isles, with ferry routes to many of the outlying islands, including every scotch lovers favourite, Islay.
The brothers set about making a distillery to rival the illegal smugglers who had a monopoly of the spirit all across the country.
Today, Oban is owned by Diageo and makes highly acclaimed malt to rival the now (mostly) legal competition.
They may not have an extensive range but their little collection certainly offers great things.
The 14 year old is the youngest of the expressions and captures the rugged sea of its home as well as the smoky characteristics of the Highland region.
With a dash of sea brine and thick smoke, the nose opens up the origins of Oban to any who choose to indulge in this great dram.
The palate becomes saltier, and you can feel the waves crashing inside your mouth. There is also an excellent freshness to the palate, like dew covered grease. This gives a nice sharpness to the sea water and smoke
The smoke itself is woody and tangy, with a slight vanilla sweetness of oak casks coming through. These flavours combined give a nice depth to the body.
The finish develops the vanilla hints to give a great honeyed taste that melds well with the dry smoke.
The next dram in the line-up is a 2013 Special Edition 21 Year Old that was released by Diageo as part of a collection of several different malts.
This is an excellent malt and definitely earns its place amongthe other special releases.
The nose begins with delightfully sweet, honeyed notes that mix with a slight tangy brine. The smell is fresh and sugary, but not overwhelmingly so.
The freshness is full of herbs and floral notes, like thyme and heather, giving a nice contrast to the sugar.
The honey becomes spicier on the palate and the American oak casks can really be tasted, to a wonderful effect. With a vanilla quality, the sweetness is joined by cinnamon and nutmeg to make for a rich flavour profile.
Like the 14 Year Old, this dram recalls its seaside home with a mouth-watering saltiness. The sweet and salt are perfectly balanced and make for an exciting drink.
The finish is full of dry oak, with a slight nuttiness and lasts just long enough.
The last bottle in the Oban range is the Distiller’s Edition, bottled 2014.
Each release of the Distiller’s Edition is double matured, and this particular expression has been finished in Montilla Fino casks, giving it a great wine like notes throughout. Although do not be mistaken, this is a dram straight out the of the Whisky classics.
The nose is warm and inviting with plenty of ripe fruit and a healthy dose of smoke and salt. The rolling seas of the west Highland coast are alive in this bottle.
With orange peels and apples and bananas, this is an juicy expression, brimming with fruity sweetness.
These flavours become evermore bold on the palate and entice the taste buds further into the rich liquid.
Sea brine and sea spray burst onto the tongue and carry with them fresh fruits and a delicate hint of peated smoke.
The smoke lingers into the finish that is full of citrus fruits and oak wood.
Oban is a distillery that puts its mark on its malt. You cannot help but recall the crashing waves of its coastal home, eloquently caught in every drop.
These are not drams to be missed.