Before writing this review, I looked back at our review of the Oban 14. I expected high praise, as it’s my usual go-to dram in a bar that doesn’t specialize in whisky, and for reasons unknown to me, it’s often $5 less for a glass than many of the other “standard” drams that may be found in non-specialty bars. Well, it was a tad snarky. Maybe even more than a tad snarky, especially taking the rating into account which damned with faint praise. What scurrilous scoundrel dared impugn (even lightly) one of my reference drams? Oh, it was me. *oops* Well, this go-round, I’ll gladly rein the snark in, as I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast of the Little Bay with the 14.
On the nose, there’s sherry. Evidently, there’s sherry, and it’s nice to find it there, even though it’s a small presence: Hello, Sherry the singing Oompa Loompa! And cherry coke, too, mixed together in a cask (small) being worn by a St. Bernard on steroids and speed, who is running rampant on the estate with Charlotte Rampling. You’d think, based on the preceding description that it’s unbalanced, but it’s not. It’s beautifully balanced, as if Charlotte was standing en pointe on top of Bernardo, the jowl-jiggling St. Bernard. The sherry grows luxuriantly, like a sprawling litter of St. Bernard puppies or Violet Beauregarde.
On the mouth, it’s light and runny; one may discern the youth, like a young djinni in a bottle. Light syrup—maybe blueberry syrup?—and a touch of brine morphing, via a bravura CGI effect, circa 2002, to a creamy fullness in the mouth. I become A Man in Fullness. There’s some tannin, too, and it’s not clear to us if that emerges Venus-like from an oaken ocean or if it’s the tartness of youth (A Youth in Tartness?).
The mouth feels—as we are nothing if not suggestible impostors—neither young nor old, an Aristotelian golden mean, as interpreted by Goldilocks searching for the right vintage. The wood isn’t quite integrated, nor is it quite sitting on top; it’s sorta spineless, but definitely not a jellyfish. An arachnid with a wooden exoskeleton? Sphagnum moss? Sphagnum Force? Sphagnum, P. I., with a moss mustache? It is hors catégorie—beyond classification.
On the scale of movies I’ve never seen but whose titles I like–
The Oban Little Bay is Big Trouble in Little China–Obviously, because this dram has Big Sherry in Little Bay—it’s a nice change-up from Oban, and a non-age statement surely worth transporting across state lines.
–Our thanks to Oban Single Malt Scotch Whisky for the sample!