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:
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?
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.