Review: Oban Little Bay

It seems like summer doesn’t really want to end in The Netherlands, not that I’m complaining. After a bit of rain during the week it’s yet another lovely weekend. Me and the fiancée took the dogs for a swim and afterwards I parked my butt in a recliner with a nice dram. The choice for today? The Oban Little Bay! Or should I say, the Little Bay Little Bay.

The choice to call this Oban release has always seemed like an odd one to me, as Oban literally means “Little Bay”. But then again, it does make for a fun fact that’s spread quite often on only fora and tastings alike. And if a product is talked about, it gets poured as well. So, perhaps it’s just marketing at its finest.

Oban’s most famous whisky is their 14-year-old release, but this Little Bay sits a little below that one price wise (in The Netherlands at least) and gives a different outlook on the distillery. One I personally prefer over the 14-year-old, though I still consider that a lovely dram as well. Even though the whisky is coloured, and chill filtered – and in that regard not aimed at the purists – I know many an afficionado who won’t turn their noses up at a wee dram of this single malt.

According to the bottle the whisky was married in the distillery’s smallest casks, though it doesn’t state what type of casks we’re used. Let’s see if we can make an educated guess from the palate and nose!

Tasting Notes: Oban Little Bay
Stats:

ABV: 43% (86 Proof)
Age: NAS
Distillery: Oban Distillery
Category:  Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Chillfiltered: Yes
Natural Colour: No

Setting:

Since I already told you a bit about my setting in the intro, I will keep this one short. It’s a lovely Sunday afternoon and I poured this dram neat into one of my Dram1 tasting glasses. Ready to nose, taste, and above all… enjoy!

Nose:

A vanilla sweetness jumps out of the glass, which immediately reminds me of ex-bourbon Quarter Casks. There’s almost no bitterness on the nose, which makes me doubt the spirit spend time in anything smaller than a Quarter Cask. Aside from vanilla I’m finding some earthen notes, reminding me of strolling through a dunnage warehouse. There’s a certain maltiness to the dram as well, like a hot steaming bowl of porridge.

Palate:

On the palate the vanilla is once again immediately clear but here it’s paired with heaps of brown sugar and thick molasses. An image of pancakes covered it both comes to mind. The Oban 14 always has a distinct liqourice note in it for me and I am finding a hint of that in this dram as well, though it’s far less pronounced than with it’s older brother. Some apples and a hint of nectarine add some fruit to the palate as well and there’s a winegum sweetness to this dram as well. All-in-all plenty of complexity I’d say, albeit predominantly on the sweeter side.

Finish:

The first thing I notice on the finish are the winegums I was finding on the palate as well, but then specifically the same bitter aftertaste the candy usually gives me. The apples are much more pronounced on the finish than the nectarines ever were, and this is the first part where I’m finding some tannins. Which once again leads me to believe these “small casks” could either not have been much smaller than a Quarter Cask or the marrying process didn’t last very long.

Verdict:

I had a lot of fun with this dram, especially trying to figure out what kind of casks they might have used proved a fun little game. Now I must admist, I haven’t researched these small casks or anything and I might be completely wrong in my guesses. But it’s fun to try and guess the background and little quests like this always help me to focus and really explore the depths of a dram.

Back to the dram at hand though and my opinion on it. I enjoyed my little exercise, and it made me appreciate the whisky in the glass thoroughly. It’s not a very challenging dram in its own right though, it’s just very pleasant. A nice sipping whisky that could serve very well as a crowd pleaser in my opinion. It doesn’t ask for my full attention, but sometimes that’s all I’m looking for. Which is why I often enjoy a dram of this while reading a book, for which (in my opinion) it makes a perfect accompaniment.

Rating:

83/100

Value:

B

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