Oban 2003 Distillers Edition

Oban 2003 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, OD 166.FC, 2017)

  • Category: Highland single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Oban distillery
  • Bottling: Diageo, OB
  • ABV: 43%
  • Cost: £80.29


What they say

Importers and entrepreneurs, the founders of Oban distillery would have approved of the Spanish influence brought to bear with this edition’s second maturation in Montilla Fino cask wood finish.

Official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Fruity and pungent, yet it is the coastal sea-breeze effect which really captures the imagination. Oban often has a salty tinge to its character, here accentuated with crushed fresh grape juice, orange zest and a hint of smoke adding to the massive complexity. This is outstanding.
  • Taste: Fruity, pungent, seriously complex whisky of the very highest order – a glorious zesty nose and masses of sweet fruit attack complemented by salt and chewy, roasty caramel malt.
  • Palate: The most explosive Oban ever. Starts with soft malt, then wave upon wave of delicate yet rich fruit notes pounds the tastebuds. They are carried in on a tide of brine, squaring impressively with the chewy malt.
  • Finish: Not so long as the big start on the palate might suggest, but lots of slightly sweetened (with Demerara sugar) Jamaican coffee and oak to start, leaving an attractive malt-biscuit effect as it dies down.

What I say

Purchased from Master of Malt (now sold out)

The second of a pair of Oban Distillers Editions sampled side-by-side for comparison. We have previously sampled the 1998 edition bottled 2013. This comparison is of the two most recent 2001-2016 and 2003-2017. All have had a second (or double! i.e. finish) maturation in Montilla Fino casks.

As per our other reviews in this range here is listing of the history of these editions, launched in 1997.

  1. Oban 1980 Distillers Edition OD 143.FF bottled 1997
  2. Oban 1981 Distillers Edition OD 144.FG bottled 1998
  3. Oban 1982 Distillers Edition OD 145.FH bottled 1999
  4. Oban 1983 Distillers Edition OD 146.FI bottled 2000
  5. Oban 1984 Distillers Edition OD 147.FJ bottled 2000
  6. Oban 1985 Distillers Edition OD 148.FK bottled 2001
  7. Oban 1987 Distillers Edition OD 150.FM bottled 2002
  8. Oban 1989 Distillers Edition OD 152.FO bottled 2003
  9. Oban 1990 Distillers Edition OD 153.FP bottled 2004
  10. Oban 1991 Distillers Edition OD 154.FQ bottled 2005
  11. Oban 1992 Distillers Edition OD 155.FF bottled 2006
  12. Oban 1992 Distillers Edition OD 156.FS bottled 2007
  13. Oban 1993 Distillers Edition OD 157.FQ bottled 2008
  14. Oban 1995 Distillers Edition OD 158.FV bottled 2009
  15. Oban 1995 Distillers Edition OD 159.FW bottled 2010
  16. Oban 1996 Distillers Edition OD 160.FX bottled 2011
  17. Oban 1997 Distillers Edition OD 161.FY bottled 2012
  18. Oban 1998 Distillers Edition OD 162.FX bottled 2013
  19. Oban 1999 Distillers Edition OD 163.FZ bottled 2014
  20. Oban 2000 Distillers Edition OD 164.FA bottled 2015
  21. Oban 2001 Distillers Edition OD 165.FB bottled 2016
  22. Oban 2003 Distillers Edition OD 166.FC bottled 2017

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Orange gold (13/20) darker in colour but with better clarity, slow, medium-fine tears leave medium legs.
  • Nose: Less sweet and fruity than the 2001 vintage, slightly more cereal malt and a touch sour on the nose, white grape, biscuit, a hint of honey sweetness near the end.
  • Taste: Lighter and sharper than the 2001 vintage on the palate, white pepper spice and white grape, honey, sour lemon and lime juice, white florals, cleansing, salty and ascerbic like lemon rind or pith or yellow grapefruit acidity.
  • Finish: Medium-short, teath-cleaning, sweet and sharp, sherbet powder, lemon puff biscuits, sour apple and grape, unripe/green banana.


Quite a different dram to the 2001 DE, cleaner and crisper in the nose and palate but much more sour. Not like the sweetness of the 2001 DE and for that I liked it a lot less. I felt this had more spirit character and less influence from the finishing casks perhaps?

Score 80/100

Don’t take my word for it:

Bloggers submit link to your review

1 reply »

  1. A good friend just bought a bottle directly from the Oban distiller and gave it to me as a gift. I was really amazed with the Flavor and all the hidden textures. All I can say is WOW!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.