How does Oban Little Bay stand up to Oban 14 Year? Oban stands on my palate’s pedestal as I explain in my review for Oban 14 Year and Oban 18 Year, but I was skeptical about Oban Little Bay.

For our review of the Oban 18 Year Scotch, click here.

I first saw Oban Little Bay in a liquor store in Frisco, Colorado. I was with my brother looking for some Oban 14 Year when we spotted this oddball Oban Little Bay. “Oban Li’l Bay? What?” We studied the label and looked for a cask age on it, but we found nothing.

Then I realized that this was probably a Diageo trick to market scotch without an age disclosure using a revered brand name. Not cool. The bottle of Oban Little Bay was only about $5 cheaper than Oban 14 Year, so we passed on the Oban Little Bay. Nice try Li’l Bay.

Mrs. Marshall Brings Home the Li’l Bay

A few months later in Texas, my wife Joy (being the lovely woman she is) surprised me with some: “Oban – You’re Favorite!” My dad and brother were coming over and she did us the honor of picking up “some special Oban.”

But it wasn’t my old familiar friend Oban 14 Year. It was Li’l Bay. My wife had brought me fruit from the wrong tree. Like Adam, I wan’t going to let it go to waste.

Oban Little Bay as “Small Cask”

Oban Little Bay is labeled as “small cask.” The idea is that in a smaller cask, there is a higher “booze-to-wood surface area” (I just made up that phrase and trade-marked it). This entails that the oak flavor will be infused in less time.

How is Oban Little Bay Different from Oban 14?

The big question is: How is Oban Little Bay different from Oban 14?

I braced myself for disappointment with Oban Little Bay. I was guessing it would be a touch better than Johnny Walker Red.

When I took my first sip…I was…I was pleasantly surprised. I wanted to hate it, but I liked it. So how it Li’l Bay different from Oban 14 Year?

  • Oban Little Bay is a tad less spicy and oaky than Oban 14 Year. You notice the difference in the finish in the throat.
  • Oban Little Bay is sweeter with a nose of green apple, prunes, caramel, oak, and honey. My guess is that the subtle sweeter fruit flavors come out more because the oak is less pronounced in the Oban Little Bay profile.
  • The taste has peat but the peat profile has flavor of clove, and I actually enjoy that clove sneaking up on me.
  • The most important difference is the finish. Oban 14 Year has a better finish than Oban Little Bay. Hands down. The finish is the biggest difference.

I expect the worst, but I like it. Oban Little Bay will now be in my rotation of solid single malts. It’s the wika-wika remix version of Oban 14 Year. If I’m dying tomorrow, give me the real Oban. If we are throwing darts and the bar has Oban Little Bay, I’ll go for it.

Maccabee Society Rating of Oban Little Bay: 91

For our review of the Oban 18 Year Scotch, click here.