Review: Oban 18 Years Old

Review: Oban 18 Years Old

Oban is a Highlands-based distillery — “West Highlands,” as the label notes — that doesn’t get nearly the chatter of other, more name-droppable single malt brands. That’s a shame, too, because while Oban isn’t a whisky that ever really results in transcendent experiences, it’s almost always worthwhile and memorable — and, in general, not too expensive, either.

Today we look at an Oban bottling that’s been hard to come by in recent years due to global whisky shortages, but which seems to be loosening up a bit. Oban 18 Years Old is an expression only available in the United States, and it’s aged exclusively in American oak.

Here’s a look at a recent bottling. Compare to a limited edition version of the same spirit released in 2009. (While the current release still carries the “Limited Edition” labeling, there’s no bottle numbering or vintage dating.)

The nose of Oban 18 is classic Highlands — lots of amber waves of grain leading to some citrus, a healthy slug of spice, and some cherry fruit notes. The palate continues the theme, with chewy barley notes, orange peel (it feels a lot like a sherried whisky at times, though it isn’t), vanilla-caramel candies, and a not insignificant barrel char influence.

Everything’s working well together on this dram, with just the slightest wisp of smoke layered throughout the experience (any peat influence here is very, very light), no element overpowering any other. The finish is on the sharp side — the whisky still manages to feel youthful even at 18 years of age — with hints of grain hanging on for the long haul.

Definitely one of the best Oban has to offer, and worth picking up.

86 proof.


Oban 18 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Barbara R Seligson on July 7, 2020 at 3:36 am

    Great site. Excellent description of my favorite, the absolute best scotch.
    18 McCallan just an over-used name. It was great 20 years ago.
    I will be visiting this site again

  2. Jonathan Gerben on September 12, 2020 at 6:20 am

    Greetings – As an individual with an Almond allergy, how can you tell if Almonds were used in the distilling process. Such as the Glenlivet 15 which uses Almonds and is listed on the box not the bottle?

    • Christopher Null on September 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Jonathan – Almonds are not used in the production of Glenlivet 15. You’re reading a tasting note that refers to “almond flavor,” which is a by-product of the distillation and aging, not the addition of actual almonds. As far as I know, no Scotch whisky uses almonds in its production.

    • Anonymous on November 6, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      Durp !

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