Review by FWL contributing editor Commander Glendidit
Here, against all odds, a remarkable one has come into being: Oban Little Bay Highland Single Malt Scotch.
What we’re talking about here is Scotch became, if possible, even more sophisticated. Even more nuanced. Even more rewarding to the enthusiastic flavor-catcher drawn to Scotch in the first place. Oban Little Bay points the way, in my opinion, to a new era of Scotch.
This is a “Tuned” Scotch. And by that I mean a single malt whose flavors have been carefully calibrated to super-appetizing uniqueness. This wonderdram rewards the palate like any of the storied brands going for much higher prices, by dint of age-labeling alone! Believe me, 30 years in a rotten cask is no bargain! Scotch comes out cranky!
I mean, think of it, anyway, in these terms: World demand for decades-old single malts is higher than ever. And there’s no way a microscopic distillery like Oban, still twisting its worm tubs and firing up its tiny twin stills can keep up with the oceanic thirst of the world… so… they developed new arts of distilling.
They create May-September marriages–also known as “Interactive Maturation” to let the malts of different ages mingle together to produce wonderful new complexities of flavor. Using casks of European sherry oak, in others, American oak casks, and in others, refill casks with new oak ends. From these traditional small barrels, Oban carefully measures different vintages together to achieve the ideal new “Oban-ness”.
And it’s a taste, as always with Oban, that sticks with you. It’s the classic Highland expression: forming citrus notes, the barest (and I mean trace) wisp of smoke finished with a slight crackling of sugar coating to form a trademark protective barrier for one’s otolaryngological tract, nose, ears, throat. In other words, exactly the kind of preventive potation you want as a trawlerman on a cold morning when the North Atlantic slaps the “Little Bay” (Gaelic: Oban) a bit silly. It’s an “Inner Sweater” if you will, long used to combat the occasional catarrh.
My it tastes good, too. And at this price, expect a shortage soon!