Oban 2023 Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Review


This is the second in a series of six reviews. For the previous installment, click here 


The distilleries involved in the Distiller's Edition program are what Diageo refers to as The Six Classic Malts and are comprised of Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban, and Talisker. Each takes part in the DE program. Today, we’ll explore the 2023 Oban Distiller’s Edition.


“Row just a few metres out to sea, and you can fit the entire town of Oban within the single frame of a camera. And the distillery is just a speck inside that image. 

Oban is one of the smallest whisky makers in Scotland. And that’s key to the character of our products. When expansion isn’t an option and the volume we’re able to produce is limited, we stand on quality, authenticity, and heritage.” - Diageo


The Oban Distillery was founded in Little Bay by brothers John and Hugh Stevenson in 1794. The duo built it at what is now the West Highland Scottish port city of Oban; however, the distillery preceded it. The Stevensons sold the distillery to Peter Curnstie in 1866, who, in turn, sold it to Walter Higgin in 1883. Higgin was upgrading the distillery when workers stumbled upon ten people's thousands of years old remains!


Then, in 1898, Alexander Edward purchased it from Higgin, adding it to his portfolio that included the Aultmore and Craigellachie distilleries. Serious financial complications occurred, and in 1925, John Dewar & Sons purchased the distillery, which then became part of Distillers Company Limited. In 1931, Oban was shut down, only to be resurrected in 1937. It happened again in 1969, reopening in 1972 with a new stillhouse and without its malting floors. In 1999, the distillery was acquired by United Distillers & Vintners, which became the spirits division of Diageo, fully converting in 2004.


Oban has only two pot stills and is the second-smallest distillery in the Diageo group. Almost 90% of what it produces winds up on the US market! It is also one of only 16 Scottish distilleries that use worm tubs. Oban’s is a one-of-a-kind that employs two worms nested within each other.


Its core expression is a 14-year-old single malt; everything the distillery releases is 43% ABV (86°). The DE adds the extra maturation in a former Montilla Fino cask, which is a fortified Spanish white wine. The suggested retail price is $95.00.


I’m about to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Diageo for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I served this Scotch neat in a Glencairn glass. The deep, brassy liquid created a thin rim that shed a thick curtain of tears.


Nose: Oban 14 DE may have the most wine-forward aroma I’ve experienced in a single malt Scotch. I smelled white grapes, pineapple, orange peel, and honey. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was salted vanilla.  


Palate: A creamy texture revealed a lightly smoky, salty taste on my palate's front. Midway through, I tasted vanilla and honey-roasted peanuts. The back consisted of rich caramel, chocolate, and a touch of mint.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish consisted of salted caramel, muted mint, chocolate, and peanuts.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: It has been a while since I’ve had a whisky with a good salty influence. The lightly-peated character meshed well with its fruitiness. Peanut is a flavor that I don’t often find in Scotch whiskies. It complimented the chocolate and caramel, giving it a dessert quality. I believe Oban has a winner with its 2023 Distiller’s Edition, and my Bottle rating should be no surprise. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.