If you have tried regular Oban Single Malt and enjoyed it, you will want to check out Oban Little Bay. The “Little Bay” whisky is created by taking the original Oban and aging it in small casks. This matures the whisky and imparts some additional flavors from the oak casks. This in turn is supposed to enhance the smoothness and the flavor. Incidentally, the name “Oban” actually means “little bay” in Gaelic. The town of Oban is of course located on a small bay.
This whisky comes in a simple bottle with a pale blue label. The liquid is a medium hue that rests about halfway between gold and amber. Opening the bottle, you detect notes of oak, espresso, citrus, apple, and salt. There is something sweet which might be honey or caramel. You also pick up some spice.
In terms of flavors, there are no major surprises here. On the palate, this whisky has a lot of the same notes that you can detect through smell. What I thought was espresso may actually be chocolate, but everything else is much as expected: apple, salt, oak, and orange. The spice note is more pronounced and definitely includes cloves. Maybe the only unexpected departure was the lack of sweetness. While I smelled honey or caramel, I don’t really taste any. Some of the fruit notes are slightly sweet, but it is a very faint sweetness. All in all, this is a pretty dry whisky. It is a little acidic on the finish.
Comparing this to the Oban 14 Year Old, I would say that there are some aspects I like better and others not so much. The 14-er was richer and spicier and had a lingering finish, but the Little Bay whisky seems to have more complexity in the flavors. I’m not really sure which of them was smoother.
You can purchase Oban Little Bay Small Cask for around $50-$70, which is not a bad price at all considering that this is a very enjoyable dram. I tend to prefer slightly sweeter whiskies, but I can’t complain about the dryness here. It was a welcome change from my usual selection, and an interesting reinterpretation of the original Oban.
Oban Little Bay Small Cask : Review Summary
Color: Medium golden amber.
Nose: Espresso, oak, citrus, apple, salt, honey, caramel, spice.
Palate: Chocolate, apple, orange, salt, oak, cloves.