Drinks Cabi­net

Sunday Herald Life - - DRINK -

Oban Dis­tillery Oban

His­tory: This dis­tillery was es­tab­lished in 1794, mak­ing it one of the old­est in Scot­land and one of a very few ur­ban dis­til­leries in the coun­try. The es­tab­lish­ment was founded by two brothers from Oban – John and Hugh Steven­son – who took over a brew­ery on the site and con­verted it into a dis­tillery.The dis­tillery was, and still is, in­cred­i­bly in­flu­en­tial on the town it­self, as it was a ma­jor source of in­dus­try, al­though fewer peo­ple work there than would have done in the past due to mod­ern meth­ods of cre­at­ing sin­gle malt. The Steven­son fam­ily ran the dis­tillery un­til about 1860. A few other own­ers fol­lowed then, in 1898, Alexan­der Ed­wards took the helm of the oper­a­tion and later a con­sor­tium made up of whisky gi­ants John De­war & Sons, James Buchanan & Com­pany and White Horse Dis­tillers be­came in­volved in the run­ning of the dis­tillery. This com­pany would even­tu­ally be­come global drinks gi­ant Di­a­geo, which still owns the dis­tillery to­day.

The whisky: This is a clas­sic mar­itime malt in pro­file, packed with fruity flavours and a hint of sweet smoke. There isn’t a huge range here, they pre­fer to fo­cus on real qual­ity with fewer re­leases. Among whisky geeks this is one brand that is al­ways sought out. If you ever get the op­por­tu­nity to try one of their very rare “Man­ager’s Dram” col­lec­tion then take it. This in­cred­i­bly rare col­lec­tion in­cludes a bi­cen­te­nary bot­tling of a 16-year-old sherry cask, which by all ac­counts is a life-changing whisky when you try it.

Favourite dram: Some folks are not fans of non-age state­ment whiskies but one try of the Oban Lit­tle Bay will change your mind. It has lovely deep fruit flavours with a touch of spice and heather honey, priced at about £58.

Geek alert: This dis­tillery is not one the big­gest; in fact it’s the sec­ond small­est in the com­pany’s port­fo­lio of about 30 dis­til­leries. It is also one of around 14 dis­til­leries to use worm tubs to con­dense its spirit. This old but prized method is sought af­ter by some whisky lovers due to the ro­bust flavour achieved dur­ing the process. Why visit? Oban is a unique dis­tillery, perched on the western edge of the Scot­tish main­land at the very top of the Kin­tyre penin­sula. I have a soft spot for dis­til­leries that are lo­cated right in the cen­tre of towns, such as Old Pul­teney up in Wick. It some­how feels more real to me that they were once the main in­dus­try of the town and its peo­ple. In fact, the dis­tillery ac­tu­ally pre­dates the town of Oban it­self. The vis­i­tor cen­tre and tour is a great place to spend some time while you are in Oban but it is def­i­nitely worth call­ing ahead to book your tour as they fill up quickly.

In­ter­est­ing fact: Oban sin­gle malt was part of Di­a­geo’s orig­i­nal and sought-af­ter se­ries of six “clas­sic malts”, to­gether with Crag­gan­more, Dal­whin­nie, Glenk­inchie, La­gavulin and Talisker. This se­ries was first re­leased to great ac­claim in 1988. In 2005 other Di­a­geo dis­til­leries were added to the range of “clas­sic malts”: Caol Ila, Cardhu, Clynel­ish, Glen Elgin, Glen Ord, Knockando and Royal Lochna­gar. Fol­low me on twit­ter @andy­drink or on Face­book

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