Created in 1794 by locals John and Hugh Stevenson, Oban is one of Scotland's oldest distilleries. It was passed on to Hugh's son Thomas, who returned from farming in Buenos Aires to take over management of the distillery – he also opened Edinburgh's iconic Caledonian Hotel on his return. After some difficult times, a man named J Walter Higgin bought Oban in 1883 and completely rebuilt most of the facility to keep up with demand. Nowadays seven operators on site lead a tightly run operation producing a delicious malt.
Oban combines Western Isle peatiness with the fragrant complexity of the Highlands. The region enjoys a mild, temperate climate with soft rain and frequent mistiness brought in by the Gulf Stream from across the Atlantic, and this rugged atmosphere has found its way into the whisky, along with hints of local heather and peat. Oban is also one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, with tiny lantern-shaped copper pot stills used to produce liquid ready for ageing. The malt is condensed slowly in wooden worm tubs that sit among the rooftops, before being transferred to oak casks.
How to Enjoy
The 14 Year Old is ideally served in a tumbler, either neat or with cool spring water – it pairs well with a number of dishes, notably buttery pasta or steak and kidney pie. Another expression, Oban Distillers Edition, has a sea-salt and smoky edge that cuts through sweet pear and orange fruit scents. Its dried fig and honey flavours are lengthened with a few drops of water.
It’s easier to keep track of your drinks if you know how many full glasses you’re drinking.