Oban (14 year)

My Scotch journey began with three drams. A Laphroaig 10, an Aberlour a’bunadh, and Oban 14. In that order. It’s no wonder that, at the time, my impression of the Oban was that it was light and largely flavorless. Anyone assailing his or her taste buds with the peat attack of Laphroaig 10, and following that up with a cask-strength Sherry monster, cannot be relied upon to taste anything, let alone a floral, nuanced highlander like Oban. To illustrate something of the journey I’ve taken in these short few months (I’ve been drinking single malts for 8 months, as of the date of this blog post), here are my tasting notes 8 months ago, and my tasting notes today:

10/2/2010
Nose has honey, oily green fresh herbs. Super light smoke with seaweed and the lightest touch of smoke.
Palate has honey, strawberry jam,rosemary, baked fruit pies.
Finish is long. Clover honey, port wine?


6/19/2011
Nose: Orange peel (Gran Marnier?) and coriander. Heather blossoms, rose water, peach sherbet. Deeply honeyed, floral, and rich. White fruits, even a touch of white port. Perhaps a touch of peat, in a pithy, green herbal note. A dash of water brings out a little green apple and mown grass, and heightens the very small amount of peat (in a mossy/earthy way, not smokey).

Palate: Viscous and honeyed. Full bodied if not creamy. Sweet baked goods (sugar cookies), raw local honey, red raspberries. Later, there is some jammy red fruits like pie filling. Very smooth, with nary a tongue burn. Water does this a dis-service, thinning the body with only a few drops, and stinging the tongue with alcohol.

Finish: A touch of oak, drying in the back of the throat. Medium-long but with nice floral passes and a lot more of that raw, herby honey.

Overall: A satisfying dessert dram. Honeyed and full-bodied, it reminds me a lot of white port, but with more bite. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving Oban 14. Leave off the water on this one, though.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Located in the West Highlands, actually situated on the western seacoast of Scotland, Oban sits across the Firth of Lorn from the Isle of Mull. One of Diageo’s “Classic Malts”, its water comes from Loch Gleann a Bhearraidh, the town reservoir. This whole area is made up of old volcanic lava flow rock. Steel mash tun, larch washbacks, and only two small “lamp glass”-shaped stills with traditional wooden worm tubs.

Oban (14 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $55-$65
Acquired: (Bottle): K&L Wines in Redwood City, CA. http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=620023
Posted in Reviews, Top Scotches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
8 Comments

8 Responses to Oban (14 year)

  1. J White says:

    oban or hp 12. i just dont know? dislike alchool reek. what more honey and malty?

    • Hi J,
      Oban is definitely honeyed and malty (The Glenrothes, a Speysider, is also heavy on honey & butterscotch flavors). Highland Park 12 is a little more acidic and citrusy, with mild peat. Both are quite smooth. I think the HP 12 is cheaper, though.

  2. J White says:

    too many bad reviews on Glenrothes select. HP taste diagram has high on citrus. Oh, i cant even eat a nut. is Hp too drying for me like old pulteney.

    Im also considering big peat, glen moray? , walker green, ?. anything with crumbling biscuit like malt notes. Maybe HP 12 is way to go. I did like Glendronach lots i cant buy locally. the honey attacking.

    • @J,
      I haven’t tried Glenrothes Select, but the Vintage releases are generally well-received, although they’re pricey. HP does have a significant citrus note (lemony, not orange like The Dalmore), but because of its partial sherry finishing, is sweeter than most peated drams. For true sweetness, you generally want to look for sherry finishes like The Macallan, or unpeated Highlanders like Oban and The Dalmore, or Speysiders like Glenrothes.

      I’ve never had Glen Moray or JW Green, although Johnnie Walker in general is known for easy-drinking and middle-of-the-road balanced flavor. (A little smoke, a little malt, a little fruit, etc).

  3. J White says:

    some HP12 comments it has NUTTY. My Palate is too sluggish for this. Old Pulteney- also floor dry malting was one i could not drink. If it has a salt, savory, honey think going with smoke it sounds awesome.
    Im corrently thinking Peat Monster,, HP12, Walker Green, more expansive Oban, then a’bunadh and 3d 3rd.

    I have like glendronach, bruichladdie peat, ardbrg 10 Teachers (too chemical and burning for me know and toxic)

    disliked Laphroig 10 40%. that sweetness? Pulteney, glenlivit 12, 15 too much spiky oak.

    • @J,
      It’s good that you’re exploring and discovering what you like and dislike about each whisky. Too many people these days will just pick one blend or malt and refuse to expand their horizons with different tastes. Continue trying new stuff (especially if you have a bar that stocks a good selection), and keep some good notes about what you liked & disliked about each. That way you’ll be able to look back and remind yourself about each one. Also, remember that taste change and you may discover down the road that whiskies you disliked at first may grow on you later. At my first tasting of five malts, I wrote down negative comments about 4 of them. I’ve since gone back and re-tried them, and discovered that I like all but one of them now.

  4. Justin says:

    Oban is good clean fun. Tasty but the price has gone up here in Las Vegas. Due to the price point (to me) here I have shied away from this tasty whisky. Loved the review and agree it is a must try!

    • ballzley says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting some smokey/peat aromas in this Oban 14. I have had Blair Athol 12 (nicely rounded, unforgettable salty caramel/butterscotch nose), Macallan 12 (the sherry and tropical banana aftertastes are unforgettable… currently my favorite), Speyside 18yr from Kirkland (made me realize my love for sherry-aromas in whiskey), Johnny Walker Green (blegh), Black (alright), Blue (as my teetotaler cousin suggested: like a smooth leather boot – but now we’re gettin somewhere!). As a scotch novice, I am definitely enjoying this Oban though, especially after reading your opinions on how you would taste whiskeys. I am trying to detect the floral aftertastes, but I can definitely agree on the oak as well as a bit of herbed honey! very smooth overall, quite easy to drink too much, heh. Next on my list would have to be Aberlour A’Bunadh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>