Just for a day last week, the scent of spring was in the air. As Larkin once observed: “The trees are coming into leaf, like something almost being said.” But while the crocuses bloom and the cherry trees blossom in St James’s Park, we’re all still waiting for spring to officially announce itself.
As that pang of anticipation hovers appetisingly amongst us, it’s time to look for a lighter whisky, befitting the better days we have ahead. On the case (and sauce), as ever, CSW recommends a 14-year-old Oban to match the March weather.
Mainland whiskies such as Oban are generally lighter, fruitier and sweeter than those from the islands. However, Oban still gets some strength from its proximity to the islands – making it all the better for these weeks of seasonal transition.
It smells of honey and lemon, but sniff it again and there’s liquorice and a slightly bitter scent of rhubarb. On the third smell, there’s a harsher, more astringent quality, but the fourth sniff returns that original butterscotch sweetness.
The taste is fresh, but Oban still has a peppery tang as it leaps like a lamb across the tongue. That first sip has a light, sweet flavour of heather, toffee and perhaps even icing sugar. There’s refreshment and moisture, then as it warms the whisky becomes quite dry and builds into a long, mellow finish.
It’s certainly a sipping scotch, and one good slug deserves another. The second taste brings out more of that west coast intensity, the Mr Hyde to kindly Doctor Jekyll. There’s some smoke, and much more intensity, although the malt never overwhelms – and I wouldn’t recommend watering it down.
Try this one in the next few weeks. As Larkin almost wrote, it tastes “afresh, afresh, afresh”. ?