Oban is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland having opened in 1794. It is also one of the smallest with production of only 650,000 litres per year. This is partly due to the restrictions of it's location. The distillery is situated in the heart of the town of Oban, on the west Highland coast, and is surrounded on all sides by other buildings which makes any expansion impossible. Despite this, Oban is in the world top 20 for single malt sales and is especially popular in America. This is due, in no small part, to owners Diageo selecting Oban to be the representative of the west Highlands region in it's 'Classic Malts' series. The small production volume dictates that the only bottlings are the 14 years old and a limited release 'Distiller's Edition' which is partly matured in Amontillado sherry casks. Independent bottlings are virtually impossible to find.
It is pale and golden in colour with a pleasant, light nose. There is a subtle blend of vanilla, honey, some dried fruit (imagine candied orange and lemon peel) and malted barley. The palate is again light and very smooth with all those elements from the nose present and mixing with some caramel, a small salty tang and maybe a hint of peat smoke. The caramel, vanilla and saltiness especially come through on the finish, which is light, short and pretty dry. This is a light and enjoyable whisky that is not particularly complex or challenging, but good and very easy drinking. I can see why this is popular and it would be very good as an aperitif, on a hot day or to have with seafood, as the slight saltiness would compliment that well. Retail price is around £35-£40 per bottle.