Origin: Highlands (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon refill, virgin, ex sherry
Added coloring: No
Average price: € 130.00
Official website: www.obanwhisky.com
After sporadic appearances in last years’ Special Releases, Oban returns for the second year in a row in the 2022 version of the series, with a couple of years less maturation and a pout-pourri of casks between American refills and virgins and the now customary (this year) seasoned casks in unspecified sherry and amontillado.
The cute bunny rabbit on the label is not an incarnation of the Purple Man, but recalls the legend that a vivid blaze of light opened up the inky black sky above Oban, led by this celestial being: a sprightly, energetic, star-carried creature that streaked across the sky in a violet explosion, pouring its ethereal light onto the distillery. An intense vibration lit up the grounds with shades of plum and blackberry, infusing Oban with an otherworldly sweetness the likes of which had rarely been seen.
Oban is not often found on these pages given my problematic relationship with the distillery, but far be it from me to be guided by preconceptions, even those related to the abuse of seasoned casks.
On the nose, it releases a light, edgy sweetness, veined with fresher, vegetal traits evoking candyfloss, lemon tart, lychee and aloe juice, which over time softens and rounds off with a faint note of butter and wax alternating with more acidic impressions. In the background, brushstrokes of chocolate and a hint of almond. Coastal afflatuses peep through the aromas, which remain in a permanent balance of sweetness and sharpness.
At the mouth the alcohol is quite present, although not excessively so, pushing the red fruits (cherry, currant, blackberry) that lead the charge of flavours, with purple citrus (pink grapefruit, blood orange) and fruity notes of apple and peach holding the line. Decidedly less rounded than on the nose, with some tannic peaks and sweetness sacrificed on the altar of spices (pepper, aniseed, nutmeg), while the vegetal and slightly savoury notes dry out in length.
The finish is quite long and slightly astringent, savoury, in which peach and apple take a little revenge on the red fruits, with nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), aniseed and vegetable veins.
A very interesting and layered nose is followed by a more grumpy and unbalanced palate, as if the casks were struggling to find the right balance. Far from unpleasant, of course, but with the impression of a distillate tugged rather than caressed by the influences received.