The Classic Malts Collection, which comprises a wide range of Scotch whiskys, recently announced a number of special edition, limited release Scotches. We got our hands on a few of them. Reviews will be posted over the next few days, but we’ll start with two from Oban.
Oban 18 Year (large photo below)
It’s been years since I’ve had the standard bottling from Oban (a coastal Highland distillery), but if it’s anything like this 18-year edition, I need to stock up immediately. This 18-year malt reminds me a lot of my beloved Highland Park 18 Year, an almost perfectly balanced blend of sweet honey, salty seaweed, and lightly smoky peat. The interplay here is complex, but it works wonderfully, with all the elements harmonizing instead of fighting for superiority. At 86 proof, it’s perfect even without a touch of water. A lovely warmth washes over you in the sweet finish, goading you into reaching for another sip. Expensive, though <sob>. 7,716 bottles produced. A / $140
Update 2/25/09: Tried Oban 14 Year last night and found it very similar in character to this 18 Year, but not quite as rich and with a little less peat smoke to it. Definitely a pair to put side by side.
Oban 1993 Distiller’s Edition (1992 edition pictured; 1993 looks very similar)
Bottled in 2008, by my math that makes this special edition Oban a 15-year Scotch. The color is quite a bit darker than the 18-year Oban, and the body is far different, too. Filled with chewy caramel notes, this has a much sweeter profile than your typical Scotch whisky, though briny notes on the finish assure you it was made near the sea. It’s a little less balanced than the knockout 18-year (a tough act to follow), but a good follow-up thanks to its dessert-like character. Fun to drink and very enjoyable. 86 proof; finished in Montilla Fino sherry casks. A- / $90