Oban 14 Year Old

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Of all whisky regions, the Highlands is perhaps the hardest to pin down to any one style, though this is hardly surprising given the area takes in everything from Loch Lomond in Alexandria to Ben Nevis in Fort William, Tomatin in Inverness and Old Pulteney in Wick. Looking for regional similarities in profile over such a geographically large area is preposterous. Indeed, one could make an argument for subdividing the region into smaller more meaningful sections. Perthshire for example, is home to a number of distilleries which share some common characteristics. Today however I am focusing on the western highlands and in particular, the charming coastal town of Oban.



The Oban Brewery was founded in 1793 but within a year of production it had been converted to a distillery, making it one of the oldest in Scotland. Over the course of its long history, the distillery has seen multiple changes in owner and encountered more than its fair share of mothballs. The site itself was relatively small and the town rather grew around it, severely limiting any potential for growth. This meant the distillery was often unable to keep up with demand, frequently overlooked for other mass-producing plants. Today however, the distillery has a home at Diageo and has rather found its place in the world thanks to the inclusion of a 14 year old version in the parent companies ‘Classic Malts’ range.

Other than this 14 year old expression, the Oban malt is limited to only two other releases – the no-age-statement (NAS) ‘Little Bay’ and the ‘Distillers Edition’. While it would be nice to sample a more extensive range of the Oban spirit, this limited supply is understandable, none of the malt produced here goes to blends, the distillery is running at full pelt just to produce this small output of bottlings.

Never one to judge a book by its cover, I rarely discuss a bottles labelling but in this case I shall make an exception. Lengthy prose refers to the Vikings, the Stone of Destiny and Clan MacDougall, though what any of this has to do with the whisky is something of a mystery. I enjoy a small helping of mythology with my dram, but some practical information would be nice too, and there’s very little on offer here.

The ScoresAbout the scores…

Smell:  Honey, Malt, Orange, Marzipan and a tough of Sea Salt.

Taste: Good weight for its 43% strength, I suspect chill filtration will have been carried out, it appears to have been done with some sensitivity. Salty again, Honey, Dark Chocolate and Orange.

Value: Seems to have climbed in price of late and is coming in at close to £50 now. It’s a decent single malt but not quite unique enough for me to justify this higher price point.

Total: 39 / 50

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3 thoughts on “Oban 14 Year Old

  1. Very interesting, and I have no problems with historical notes on a label, on the contrary it tends to stimulate further interest in our history. From personal experience, I can recommend the Oban brand so don’t be afraid to open your wallet. On a slightly picky note, the grammar in the text of the label leaves a lot to be desired – perhaps someone with a smattering of knowledge of the English language would help here.

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for taking the time to comment.
      I actually enjoy a bit of history / mythology on the label. I’m a sucker for a good story, I just prefer to see it paired with some practical information as well.
      Of course at the end of the day, the contents of the bottle is the most important and it falls to each individual to judge if the quality justifies the cost they paid. This is by no means a bad whisky!
      One of the great things about whisky is how each persons experience can vary so much from the next. It’s why it’s so much fun to talk about it!
      Right from the start I hoped people would come on and share their own views so thanks again!

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