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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Oban 11 year old, Diageo Special Releases 2023

I'm always interested in more Oban options, but they need to be good whiskies, not just NAS portfolio expansions, so when Diageo plops one into the annual Special Releases outturn, they successfully secure my attention. Though the 2023 release might not match the quality of the terrific 2013 offering (which was 21 years old and bereft of a "Caribbean Pot Still Rum Cask Finish"), it's still an age-stated Oban single malt, so I am holding onto cautious hope.

Distillery: Oban
Owner: Diageo
Region: Western Highlands
Age: minimum 11 years
Bottling year: 2023
Maturation: First round: ???; Second round: Caribbean pot still rum casks
Outturn: ?????
Alcohol by Volume: 58%
Chillfiltered? probably not
e150a? not much if any
(from a bottle split)


Crazy nose alert! Ready? Apples, sugary rum, Malort (bruh), yeast, lemons, skunk, and ocean brine. Much less rum on the palate, yay! It's salty, almost savory, with mild sweetness, and a hint of wood smoke. Some wasabi bitterness crashes in at the ~30-minute mark. It does get sweeter with time. The somewhat short finish is bitter and salty with a touch of quirky Jamaican rum funk.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Better assembled, this nose is full of citrus (peels and blossoms), less sugar, and more funk on the rum. It also picks up a pretty apricot note after a while. The palate has better mouthfeel and a bright tangy stone fruit note. A slight bitterness mixes with a olive + mild funk note of LROK Hampden. The finish gets a bit wilder with briny olives, limes, cayenne, and herbal bitterness.


Though I had a crispy optimistic crust, the center was all chewy cynicism. The whisky is better than expected. When the rum-inspired notes tilt towards Jamaica, the whole picture improves. Water is required. As usual, the nose has the most fun and the palate is jealous, but they're close. (I'm not sure if that makes any sense.) I'd still prefer the standard 14yo or the ol' Distillers Edition, but the rum finish doesn't wreck this Oban, which is good news for us all.

Availability - Still available in Europe
Pricing - $125-$175 (same as the Roseisle)
Rating - 84 (must add water)