What I know about Oban I could probably fit on one hand. I’m lead to believe that the correct pronunciation is closer to “o-bin”. The distillery is apparently right in the middle of town (a town I’ve been through, but didn’t see the distillery). Oban is owned by Diageo. There’s also a big-ass essay written on the bottle in small blue cursive that I can barely read sober — ain’t no drunk gonna read it.
So other than to note that this review sample is taken from the bottom of a bottle I cracked about 5 weeks ago, there’s not a lot of baggage attached to this dram.
So here goes…
Nose: there’s a hint of brine, and a little bit of citrus, but the deep malt notes are really dominating here. And they are deep, wave after wave.
Taste: hints of dark honey, a brief touch of cinnamon, quite full bodied without feeling oily. Rich toffee – but not too sweet.
Finish: quite long, with notes of medium dark chocolate, maybe a hint of coffee, maybe a toasty oak touch, but this is by no means smoky or peaty.
And with a drop of water…
Nose: I want to say there’s a hint of orange peel, but it’s probably closer to oak. I think the wood is more pronounced now. It’s a little more briny too.
Taste: It tastes a bit lighter, like milk chocolate, no where near the heavy dram it was, with more cinnamon, maybe mace. It’s quite surprising — we’re talking a single drop of water in about 20mL and the difference this time is pronounced.
Finish: is lighter, maybe a hint of citrus, but definitely milk chocolate.
And for the official tasting notes:
Rich sweetness and fruits – oranges, lemons and pears, with sea-salt and peaty smokiness.
A full, rich, almost oily malt.
Mouth-filling late autumn fruits – dried figs and honey-sweet spices; followed by a smoky malty dryness.
Long, smooth-sweet finish with oak-wood, dryness and a grain of salt.
So overall I got close to what they were hoping for — actually I’m pretty amazed at how close some of my words were to theirs (I didn’t cheat, either!).
Overall I liked the richer, un-watered Oban. It’s rich, deep, malty. Not very smoky at all, and not my favourite malt, but one I’m happy to have drunk. For the right price I’d possibly replace this bottle once it’s gone, but given my stash is lacking some staples right now (Caol Ila, Clynelish, Bowmore Darkest) this won’t be my first choice grab.
If you like rich, not too complex, not smoky but with a hint of the sea, try Oban 14yo. Or, like the tasting notes, you can take my recommendation with a pinch of salt.