The very last 1996 Oban is highly unusual yet delicious with a firmer backbone than is usual for this distillery. Rarely seen at Oban, the refill European oak delivers a distinctively dry maritime slant to both aroma and taste and hosts a lively peppery spiciness. A first appearance for Oban to Prima & Ultima, this bottling comes at a time when the distillery had won the highly competitive Managers Dram competition a record three times.
Appearance: Deep amber with copper lights. Excellent beading. Good legs.
Nose: Mellow and quite drying, with light prickle. The first impression is faintly medicinal and mossy, with just a faint hint of grapefruit, becoming lightly oily; beneath this is a sweet suggestion of toffee and a faint hint of fragrant smoke (a Clynelish aficionado hunting for a note of snuffed candle may think this an echo of it). All of this is comparatively shy and closed. A little water increases the hint of toffee and introduces a balsa wood note.
Palate: Smoothly oily, the texture is lightly waxy and tooth- coating. The taste is surprisingly sweet to start and apple- fruity at first, then quickly very drying and soon, chilli- pepper spicy. A toffee apple with burnt edges comes to mind. A little water helps bring up the sweetness and reduce the spiciness.
Finish: A good length, with a spicy kick and a mouth-cooling aftertaste which at the same time has warming Szechuan pepper-spice. Sweeter with a drop of water and now salty; the spice is reduced.