Oban Little Bay – Have Oban, Will Travel…Retail

Will you be traveling for the new year? If so, you’ll probably pass through an airport, where you can check out the Oban Little Bay. Now Oban means “Little Bay”, so this is a play on words, as this whisky is finished in quarter casks, after being matured in first fill European oak ex-sherry casks; refill casks with new oak cask ends; and refill American oak hogsheads.

Nick Offerman made a rather silly Oban video, one that isn’t specifically about the Little Bay but it’s fun:

Photo Credit: dutyfree.co.il

Photo Credit: dutyfree.co.il

Oban Little Bay, Travel Retail (43% ABV)

Appearance: Copper, quick legs with some residual droplets.

Nose: Orange (maybe just the peel?), faint salt, honey and malt. With time in the glass, these four basic aromas dance around giving different highlights with each sniff.

Palate: Could use some more body. Hint of salt and some black pepper with notes of honey with grapefruit, with a hit of cinnamon and cardamom.

Linger: Spice and some bitter citrus on the palate, more bitterness on the sides of the tongue in a rather short finish.


Surprisingly, and unlike some of the other recent Diageo NAS expressions – like the Talisker Skye, the Little Bay doesn’t really feel young. Here’s a NAS whisky for which I have no complaints as to quality. This is good, well made whisky. I still think that giving more information as to the length of time it spent in each of the four types of casks it was made in would have enhanced our enjoyment from the whisky. Is it better than the age stated Oban 14 in such a way as to justify being more expensive than it? I will submit to you that while the 14 Year old is matured in refill hogsheads, the Little Bay is matured partially in first fill sherry butts and in quarter casks, suggesting that at least the wood used created some extra costs which the 14’s production doesn’t incur. Does that fully explain the pricing? I don’t know, but at least I can wrap my head around this one.

I do just wonder if the body wouldn’t have been fuller and the finish longer and more satisfying at 46% ABV…

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