Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Scotch Tasting: Oban

In all the chaos of this weekend's family crisis, I almost forgot to mention that Friday night, I had the opportunity to sit back, relax, and try the first of the single malt Scotches in the tasting sampler I received for Christmas. I thought I'd share with you my impressions.

Bear in mind, these aren't the impressions of someone who's received any training in the proper teminology of Scotch tasting. So if the language seems a little unsophisticated, bear that in mind.

I started with the Oban 14 Year. Here is what the official tasting notes that come with the set have to say about it:

Dating back to 1794, Oban is one of Scotland's earliest distilleries. The clatter and steam of the coal fired engine that once drove the malt mill and steering for the mash tun have long departed. Yet the smells of barley, malt, and whisky maturing in sherry casks remain.

Oban is the West Highland malt, matured for 14 years. A singular, rich and complex malt with the merest suggestion of peat in the aroma, slightly smoky and with a long smooth finish. These pleasing characteristics position Oban somewhere between an Islay and a Highland malt.

Here are my impressions, written down as I sipped the dram. I'll expand each one into a whole sentence, but leave them in the order they came to me:

The first thing that came to mind was how warm this Scotch tastes. I was also reminded of the first impression I got the first time I ever drank Oban, which is that its taste and aroma remind me of the aroma of new, high quality leather. This also came through in the way it evoked the scent of parchment or old books. It was spicy, and I thought I caught a hint of chocolate in its aroma. There was a lingering astringency to it, and I also picked up the smell of pipe tobacco smoke. I tasted banana at the back of my mouth. I was a little put off by how hard it hit my nose after it was in my mouth. The flavor hits the reeof of the mouth as much as it hits the tongue, and fills the whole mouth. There was no sweetness at all that I could taste in this Scotch, but there was a richness to it.

Next up: Dalwhinnie 15 Year Cragganmore 12 Year.

Perfect Timing.

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