Oban Distillers Edition 1998 Montilla Fino Finish (Official Bottling)

43% ABV, £65 for 70cl

Score: 80/100

What they say:

Each Distillers Edition expression undergoes a second (or ‘double’) maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine.

The founders of Oban distillery were entrepreneurs who imported and exported goods for which they could sense a demand. They would have approved of the Spanish influence brought to bear in this Montilla Fino cask wood finish.

A seriously complex whisky of the highest order – a glorious zesty nose and plenty of sweet fruit complemented by salt and chewy, roasty caramel malt.

APPEARANCE: Amber, rose-hued

NOSE: Outstanding. Fruity and pungent; sea salt with crushed grapes, orange zest and hints of smoke. Massively complex.

BODY: Full, rich.

PALATE: Most explosive Oban ever. Soft malt then wave upon wave of delicate yet rich fruit notes on a tide of brine.

FINISH: Sweetened Jamaican coffee and oak, with an attractive malt-biscuit effect as it dies down.

WITH FOOD: Richly sweet and smoky dry; ideal with rich tastes. Try it with buttered tagliatelle and Parmesan, Italian sausage or black pudding – great with spaghetti Bolognese.

What I say:

Following our slight disappointment with the standard Oban 14 Years Old expression we advanced to the Distillers Edition to see if a double-maturation finishing in Montilla Fino cask improved the Oban spirit. Montilla wines are produced in the southern part of Córdoba in Spain using similar techniques to the production of Sherry but producing sweet dessert wines.

Colour:

Orange/red dark gold

Nose:

Delicate fruit, sweet plum flesh, estery pear drop sweets and ketones almost like over-ripe banana

Taste:

The palate is very similar to the aroma with sweet toffee and fruity flavours (plum/peach/banana) with additional sourness, almonds and rough/gritty/sugary marzipan that develops a bitterness

Finish:

Short, slightly warming with marzipan and slightly sweet honey

Would I buy it again:

Whilst this is a definite improvement over the Oban 14 Year Old expression it is still not that spectacular. Usually with their Distiller’s Edition range Diageo take their classic malt whisky and marry it to a finishing cask that both adds depth and complexity as well as brings out some of the signature/characteristic flavours of the original. Sadly for me this 1998 Oban Distiller’s Edition rid the Oban spirit of its boring nature without really delivering the nice fruity depth normally found with sweet wine/sherry finishing. The final result is a little more complex and interesting but still has a little of the Oban yawn factor for me. I would recommend many of the other Distiller’s Editions long before this one – in fact I would only suggest you buy it if you really wanted to complete the whole set of the Distiller’s Editions range and have them look pretty on a shelf (it’s up to you if you really want to drink it).