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Whisky Reviews

Oban 1969, 32 Year Old, Diageo Special Release, 55.1% ABV



After I tried a beguiling 1978 vintage Oban bottled by the legendary Kingsbury at 19yo, I've been looking for more old Oban. I tried this at a local whisky event at a fair price. There were 6000 bottles released before Diageo prices and bottling choices really went off the rail, so this relative accessibility in today's terms helps.

Distillery: Oban

Region: Highland

Price: ~40 USD/2cl

Cask Type: Undisclosed vatting

ABV: 55.1%

Chill-filtered: No

Color: 0.7, amber

Drammed slowly after 15 minutes in air, out of a snifter glass, from an open bottle with about a 40% left.

Nose: Ever shifting, rich, sweet and vibrant. Milk bread, orchids, elderflower cordial, vanilla, mushy pears and apples, blackberry drops, pineapple cordial, lime zest, char siu buns (especially five-spice and maltose), plus a curious hit of sesame oil.

Palate: Medium, zero heat, pear drops, honey drops and vanilla cola float... floating above an undercurrent of something leathery like lambskin, and cashew nuts. Waxiness grows with time in the air to a moderate level. Start to see some tarragon herbality too.

Finish: Gentle but long: cypress incense smoke, green apples, quince, lychee sorbet.

Conclusion: So beautiful. Complex and yet clearly defined. What is striking is the underlying oily nuttiness that enhances the florality and fruitiness. I keep coming back to that perfectly formed lychee sorbet. If I had to absolutely nitpick at this pinnacle level of Scotch, the sweet char siu/roast meat note is not quite cohesive with the direction otherwise taken by this Oban. I thought the Kingsbury 1978 I tried was good -- and there was some family resemblance with the lychee. However the floral cordial notes are so even better defined here, and the transition from tarragon to cypress between palate and finish was particularly striking.

Score: 92

If this were named by the SMWS: Lycheeing Off You