Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Oban Distiller's Edition

Oban Distiller's Edition
Price: $80-$90
Strength: 43 %

Apparently duty free shops sell high quality liquor in one liter bottles, a fact that escaped my attention the one or two times I've been in them. My brother recently traveled to Paris for a Chem Engineering conference, where Scotch is a bit cheaper (Europe in general, that is, not just at Chem Engineering conferences). He returned with a belated birthday gift: a one liter bottle of Oban Distiller's Edition, which some quick reading informed me is aged 16 years, the first 8 like standard 14 yr Oban, and the last 8 in rather select sherry casks, in this case, Montilla Fino.

This is a fun review to write, as this is just a great Scotch, and a surprise, since I'd had Oban's 14 year and was underwhelmed; it was nice, but unremarkable. I must admit I was bemused to open it, in light of my impression of the 14, but I was blown away immediately. The Distiller's edition was great right from my first impression, the very pleasant color, a deep golden amber. This is the color Scotch should be. Lifting the glass to the nose brings another smile. The aroma is rich, with floral notes I'd noticed in the 14, plus definite fruit and sherry notes.
A first sip reveals a crisp start with a texture reminiscent of the ocean, and a rich sweetness, similar to a good Speyside. As I roll it around my mouth, I get more of those wonderful strong sherry notes, and again a floral background. I don’t know sherry in the least, but those Montilla Fino casks make a big difference! The addition of a few drops of water ups the sweetness and the smoothness, though water is certainly not a necessity here. Several reviewers have noted an actual ocean taste, and I was intrigued, but to be honest, I don't find anything reminiscent of seawater aside from the crispness of the texture. I can't claim this is a detriment; an ocean tang might distract from all these other great flavors already present. The fruit and floral sherry notes mingle nicely with one another throughout the long finish, with perhaps the faintest suggestion of some peat. The Oban has a solid, smooth mouth feel, and the alcohol is mild; I barely noticed the burn with so much else going on.

Overall I liked this very much. This expression makes up for whatever was lacking of the 14 by a long shot. The additional aging in the really excellent sherry casks adds some amazing flavors to that base. I noticed good similarities to both Speysides and Highland Park, already solid favorites. This is a definite winner... I'd get it again anytime.  95 points (A).

Other Oban reviews:


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