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Oban Little Bay

Oban for Easter

4 1088

@talexanderReview by @talexander

30th Mar 2018

1

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    21
  • Finish
    22
  • Balance
    22
  • Overall
    88

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Hard to believe I've never reviewed an Oban before, since it's one of Diageo's well-known Classic Malts (according to them, anyway). One of Scotland's oldest distilleries, it was established in 1794 in the town of Oban, which has grown in population around the distillery (preventing distillery expansion beyond its 700,000 lpa from small stills). Unlike many Scottish single malt distilleries, it has never ceased production.

Apparently the word Oban is Gaelic for "little bay", so I guess this bottle is really called Oban Oban? Non-age-statement, it is apparently distilled in small batches and matured in small casks. Small distillery, small stills, small batch, small casks. Little Bay, indeed.

The colour is a light-to-medium gold. The first hit I get on the nose is toffee, but following that there are saltines, strawberry, blood orange, macadamia and soft vanilla. Dried fruits such as apricot and mango; gets more citrusy with time. Rich, old-fashioned maltiness. Briny and slightly peaty with water. Noses surprisingly "old" for an NAS malt. Very complex, beautifully done.

More toffee on the palate with salted mixed nuts, strawberry (again), green apple, cinnamon and cloves. Modest spice (could use more). Slightly oily. The flavour really explodes with water, getting maltier, spicier and oakier. Delicious and mouth-watering, and very approachable.

The dry finish has a touch of oak with gentle spices, blackberries and pressed apple juice. One of the best of the newer NAS single malt scotches you will find. Extremely complex (how can it by oily and mouth-drying at the same time?) and full of fruit, spice and that brininess you get from coastal malts. Lacks the rich body of the 14 Year Old but regardless, this is very rewarding. Geoffrey Kleinman scored this a 92 in Whisky Advocate.

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10 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

Sounds very nice. Do you know the barrel size? Smaller casks are likely a big reason for the strong flavours in a presumed to be "young" NAS whisky.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor I don't know, it didn't say on the label (admittedly, I did not do "deep background research"....)

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@talexander, nice review, again.

I too was surprised by this NAS Oban. I was "gifted" a bottle of Little Bay a couple of years ago by a local restaurateur after leading a tasting session held at his flagship establishment. This bottle (and a few more) was opened after the session and therefore could not be redeemed against an alternative purchase. I have revisited Little Bay and must say that I'm glad I opened and kept this bottle. A nice light whisky for a light mood.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

The whisky so nice they named it twice!

I haven't had this. And I can't see I'm too excited by its existence—and yet, I think just about every review I've seen of it is surprisingly positive. And this thing's cheap as hell, too: usually down in the ~$40 basement along with Talisker Storm.

Maybe I should be excited about it. Just a little.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@MadSingleMalt It's nothing to get crazy excited about. But if you're missing a decent, complex but approachable (and affordable) single malt in your cabinet for any reason, this is a really good choice.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@talexander Nice review. I must try this one sometime. I have always gone with the OB 14, but I'm finding it a bit simple and sweet lately.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@talexander, you mentioned "oily and mouth drying at the same time" - for me that brings to mind Four Roses 125th Anniv. Small Batch, Northern Harvest Rye, and AP 30 to name a few. I find these to be oily and mouth drying; however, none of these are single malts...perhaps cask or still is responsible.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@paddockjudge Hmmm all good points on those ones. But I feel this one was more pronounced in that way.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@talexander, this review is incentive for me to revisit Little Bay... fill level below half after two years, it holds its own very well. I like it better now than when it was first opened.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

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