One looking for the rarest and oldest scotch will inevitably stumble across a mention of Oban whiskey. The Oban family has some of the most aged scotches on the market, and they range from a variety of years – including up to 32 years. This is a fine collectors’ edition for those that appreciate single malt scotches and want something that is truly extraordinary.
The Importance of the Oban Scotch Brand
There are only three Obans that have been bottled for the company’s Special Releases range. This includes the 32-year from 1969, the 20-year, and the 21-year (which was released in 2013). These Oban scotches were released at their cask strength without filter.
Oban’s are named after the resort region of Oban, Scotland. Oban is a resort town inside the Bute and Argyll council areas of Scotland, says Wikipedia.
At the Oban Distillery, there are just two pot stills, which makes it one of the smallest distilleries in the country. Their whiskeys feature a Highland flavor profile, which includes a dry, smoky profile along with sweet profiles from the Islands.
What Makes the Oban 32-Year Scotch So Significant?The 32-Year scotch from Oban was released in 2002, but only 6,000 bottles were sent out in production. The color of this whiskey is amber, and the flavor is extraordinary.
It is salty and has hints of a spicy honey. Wood spices from the casks are noted as well, including nutmeg and cinnamon. Some say that sourdough flavors appear after sipping for a while, and when water is added to this variety, there are sweeter characteristics highlighted, including berries.
The scotch is very gentle on the palate, and while it is 32 years old, it is surprisingly refreshing with and without water. Because it was aged in a Sherry cask for 32 years, it takes on plenty of notes from the Sherry.
On average, the 32-Year costs anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 per 750ml – depending on where it is purchased and if the tube is required or just the bottle.
What About the Oban Scotch 18-Year Whiskey?
The Oban Limited Edition 18-Year-Old West Highland Single Malt is drier than the 32-year variety and features flavors of dried fruits, spices, and oak. It is full of toffee, oak, pepper, salt, seaweed, and smoke. It is difficult to find the 18-year in the United States, and many warehouses will only have a handful in stock.
Most online retailers will be out of stock of the 18-year, because it had a more affordable price tag than the 32-year scotch, and it was in high demand.
The color of the 18-year is a green-gold, and it has a paler yellow finish than the 32-year variety.
When it can be found, the 18-year Oban scotch is priced approximately $110 for 750ml.
There is an Oban Single Malt 14-Year-Old, Too
The Oban 14-Year Scotch is another single malt variety from Oban Distillery. The color is more like an olive gold, and when one opens the bottle, they are engulfed in scents of fruit, sweets, lemons, sea salt, and peaty smoke.
The body of the 14-year is full and very rich, which makes it ideal for cutting with soda water or plain water. Once sipped, it tastes like autumn-harvested fruits with a smoky finish.
Luckily, the 14-year is much easier to find than the 18- or 32-year scotch varieties from Oban Distillery. On average, the 14-year is available for only $50 to $60 per 750ml.
What Scotches are Comparable?
For those who cannot find the Oban 14-, 18-, or 32-year scotches, some other brands offer similar flavors and are often used in place of Oban’s.
For example, the Lagavulin 16-Year Scotch, which averages $84 per 750ml, provides intense peat smoke scents and a dry fruitiness on the palate. It is warming, peppery, and intense. After a few sips, most will describe it as a flavor explosion because it continues to build on itself.
The Macallan 18-Year Single Malt Scotch is also a good comparison. However, it is costlier than the Oban 18-Year, coming in at an average of more than $200 for 750ml. This Speyside malt has notes of dried fruit and ginger, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. The clove and orange spices make it warm and inviting, and there is a lingering flavor of sweet toffee, ginger, and wood smoke.