Oban 12, Freshly-charred American Oak Casks, 56.2% – Diageo Special Releases 2021

One of the prettier distilleries, in the very lovely town of the same name, is part of Diageo, and part of a lot of the special releases. This one was released in 2021 and matured in freshly charred oak casks. I guess this can also be described as ‘virgin oak’ since that is a sketchy description at best.

Generally Oban 14, their regular release, is considered to be a solid coastal Highlands whisky, even by veterans in this hobby, with thousands of whiskies behind them. It does a rather straight forward thing, but it does it well and it’s consistent. Not the most exciting, but always tasty.

Image from Whiskybase

Of course, that makes a special release all the more interesting, since there’s almost no Oban available other than the regular 14, the distiller’s edition and the Oban Little Bay. Of which the regular one is, I think, the best of the bunch.

The nose starts off with quite some roasted grains and charcoal. A hint of oak, and some peppery spiciness. Slightly resinous, with a hint of coconut husk, sawdust and dried treebark. Cinnamon too, maybe.

The palate arrives with a mix of syrupy texture, but also a bit of dry spiciness. Sawdust, apples and coconut. Black pepper, resin cinnamon. A strange jumble of flavors. The syrupy feeling also brings some sweetness to counter a slowly building chili heat.

The finish is a bit weird. It has a fatty greenness to it, which reminds me of tequila, with out any of its zestiness. Green, with sawdust, cinnamon and pepper.

The oak is, maybe surprising, not overly prominent. I think that’s a good thing, because that also leaves some room for the spirit to work its magic. Lovely notes of wood spices and fruit, while being quite a crisp and coastal whisky. Solid stuff!


Still widely available for about € 115


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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