Oban 12, decanter from the 1970s

A bit of a divergent title since there’s not much info in there. Funny thing is, there’s not much info on the bottle either. No ABV, no contents. Just that it’s been bottled by John Hopkins & Sons. Based on the tax label info it’s from somewhere in the 1970s.

What I do know is that I like Oban, in general. There aren’t many out there I won’t say I’ve tried a lot of them, but even the regular 14 year old is a pretty decent dram. One of the better standard whiskies, I think.

I got a sample of this in a recent trade, and that’s a good thing. I finally get to try older Oban from one of those decanter bottles. I’ve been eyeballing those in auctions for a long time but there was always something else to go after. Now I get to check whether that was a good thing to do.

The nose is light, but has some of OBE (Old Bottle Effect) which makes you recognize it as an old bottle straight away. Quite coastal with a gentle layer of smoke. Some oak pulp, leather an old books. Like an old library with armchairs. Dusty grain, wet, moldy cellars and wet cement. Somehow there’s also a hint of yeasty sherry and sawdust. Quite cloyingly sweet with a lot of fruit. Overripe mango and papaya.

The palate is more rich and full than I expected from such an old whisky. Sweet again with the overripe fruit. Leather, oak, old wood. Slightly salty an that wet cellar scent again. Dunnage warehouses and books.

The finish continues down the same path. A library from a couple of decades ago, with armchairs and a sea facing window that’s open. Quite old fashioned. Heavy and slightly cloying.

It’s quite interesting how much this whisky reminds me of the current Benromach 10 year old. Apart from that, it’s a great dram. There’s so much going on for a regular 12 year old. With booze like this I can imagine people considering older single malts (not in age, but when they were distilled) are better than their current counterparts.

I love that there’s a slight coastal note going on behind all the old books and leather notes. It makes for a very interesting and deeply layered dram. I absolutely love this kind of stuff and I can imagine it being in my next auction biddings. Whether or not it’s going to be in the winnings is an entirely different story, with current prices being north of € 200.

Oh, and based on ABV, I’d say this is a 43% whisky.

Oban 12, no further info but probably from the late 70s. Currently worth some € 250

EDIT: I’ve checked the tax label, and it’s one of those Italian ones. The contents of the bottle is ‘da litri 3/4’, and according to my own research with help from Max Righi we found that this wasn’t done after 1977. So, a real oldie with distillate of 1965 at the latest!


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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