Oban Little Bay Review


“Little Oban”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highland (West)
Brand: Oban Little Bay 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 43 %
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 564

Colour: Amber with a touch of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Quite Sweet and Malty with Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Whole Wheat Biscuits, Heather, Straw, Salted Almonds, Mixed Dried Fruits, Caffe Latte, Oak, Citrus, light Honey, Wax, Vanilla, Marshmallow, Caramel, Herbs, Menthol, Green Apple, Ginger and a distant hint of Leather. There is a bit of Earthy Peat and Smoke in the background. The Vanilla of the New Oak cask ends is certainly noticeable but the influence of the Refill Ex-Sherry Casks is small. The Alcohol is not fully integrated as might be expected of a relatively young Whisky. It's different when compared to the 14 Years. It's Sweeter, it's got more Cereals, less Peat and less Coastal influences. To sum it up, the Oban Little Bay is more mainstream. 

Palate: Young and slightly Edgy. It's basically Bitter-Sweet but with a few Sour components as well. I find Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, Salted Nuts, Mixed Dried Fruits, Orange, Charred Oak, light Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Green Apples, Menthol, Pepper, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, Caffe Latte and faint hints of Chocolate, Smoke and Aniseed.  

Finish: A bit Short, Light and Medium-Spicy. Quite Dry and a little Acid towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, light Honey, Salted Nuts, Mixed Dried Fruit, Oak Char, Green Apple, Licorice, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Citrus, Bitter Tea, Menthol and hints of Dark Chocolate, Smoke and Espresso.   

I added a bit of Water but didn't find any important changes. A bit more Cloves on the Nose and a little less Alcohol of course. The Finish becomes too Short. 

Rating: 82 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5


General Remarks: Oban (Gaelic for Little Bay) distillery is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland and was founded in 1794. It is located in the seaport of the same name on the frontier between the Western Highlands and the Isles. This is where Peat and Heather meet Salt and Seaweed! Oban is now owned by the Diageo Group. The Little Bay was launched in 2015 and at first tested in the Travel retail shops. In the meantime it's part of the core range of the distillery and it's likely to replace the 14 Years in due course. The Little Bay matures in a mixture of Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogsheads, Refill Ex-Sherry Casks and Refill casks with new Oak casks-ends. Finally, these Spirits are married in small 200 litres Ex-Bourbon barrels. It is sold at around 70 US Dollars (Oct. 2016). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but nothing special. 

Conclusion: The Oban distillery has the potential to produce a Whisky that bridges Highland and Island Malts. And the 14 Years does that in a certain way. The Little Bay is not a bad Single Malt but I would not recognise it as Oban in a Blind Tasting. Too much Sweet Cereals and Vanilla and too little of Oban's familiar Coastal Aromas and Flavours. It's also relatively Young and even a tiny bit Sharp on the Palate. The Oban Little Bay is just another of the never ending wave of Mainstream Malts that hit our coasts these days. Harsh Whisky Reality I'm afraid. If you like Oban, stay with the 14 years as long as it's around. More so as the prices are quite similar in most places!   

Jan van den Ende                                                                   October 7, 2016

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