Oban 21 Years (Special Release 2018)

”For What It’s Worth”

Whisky Review # 934

Country: Scotland

Region: Western Highlands
Brand: Oban - Special Release 2018 - Distilled in 1996- Bottled 2018 - 2860 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57.9% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Mix of Re-Charred American Oak & Re-Fill European Ex-Sherry Butts
Chill Filtration: No
Price Average: US$ 700 (October 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😡Ridiculously Overpriced!
Buying Advice: 👎It's not worth the money. You better buy ten bottles of the 14Y

Color: Golden (Natural Color)


The Nose is rather shy. Be sure to give it at least half an hour to open up. Even so, the Aromas don't jump out of the glass. The casks weren't extremely active and I wouldn't give it 21 Years in a Blind Tasting. The Nose is mainly driven by Fruit and Green notes. But those are interwoven with a fine coastal cloud and that works out fine. The Alcohol is there but does not interfere with the Nosing procedures. The Nose is pleasant but a bit unassuming and that's a pity.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Wax, Green Leaves, Vegetables and Apples, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Sweet Earthy Peat, Brine, Tar, Smoke, Charred Oak, Ginger, Cinnamon, Menthol and Dusty Shelves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Yeast, Fruitcake, Marzipan, Nectarine, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Plums, Wet Rocks and Sand, White Chocolate, Caffe Latte, Green Olives, Smoked Pork Chops and mixed Nuts.


Quite Edgy and Nervous when compared to the introvert Nose. Slightly Hot as well.  The Alcohol is very noticeable at this point. The Palate presents a mix of Bitter, Sweet, Sour and Salty notes and I miss balance here. It's a bit Rough and Dirty.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Wax, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Oak Char, Green Coconut, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Brine, Apple Beignets, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Dark Chocolate, Herbal Tea, Raspberry Jam, Menthol, Aniseed and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Honey, Toffee, Yeast, Melon, Dried Apricot, Nougat, Mixed Nuts, Caffe Latte, Tobacco, Cardamom, Cloves and Nutmeg.


Medium Long, Bitter-Sweet, quite Hot and slightly Acid. Quite Dry towards the end. The Alcohol is overpowering and some Water will be required. I find Sweet Toasted and Malted Barley, Wax, Salted Caramel, Honey, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Green Apple, Grass, Dark Chocolate, Earthy Peat, Ashes, Mixed Salted Nuts, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Ginger, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Licorice, Leather, Herbal Tea and Menthol. A distant hint of PVC Pipes.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and while it naturally helps to calm down the Alcohol, it also hides most of the Aromas and Flavours leaving you with a feeling that's not unlike brushing your teeth with Colgate Spearmint. I prefer it neat but add only a few drops of Water if you must.

Rating: 84.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good


The Oban (Gaelic: 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 & the Isles. This is where Peat and Heather meet Salt and Seaweed! Oban is now owned by the Diageo Group. It produces +/- 840.000 litres per year. The core range exists of the Little Bay, the 14 - & 18 Years as well as the Distiller's Edition with Sherry Finish.

I'm not a big fan of this distillery and this Special edition does nothing to change my mind, not even considering the quite ridiculous price. I can't remember having ever tasted a 21 Year-old Single Malt that was so Rough & Unbalanced. I must question the Cask Management in this respect. With 21 Years of cask time you would expect a fully matured Single Malt but that's not the case here. It still smells and tastes like a semi-finished good. If you like Oban, do yourself a favor and buy 10 bottles of the core range 14 Years instead. This special edition is not worth your money.


Jan van den Ende                                                                      October 27, 2021

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