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Issue 52 - Small but perfectly formed (Oban)

Whisky Magazine Issue 52
November 2005


This article is 12 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Small but perfectly formed (Oban)

Oban is a wonderful but compact distillery in a picturesque port town. Ian Buxton visited it

After 37 years in the business, it seems churlish to deny Oban's manager Kenny Gray an easy commute to work. After all, he's worked man and boy for Diageo, starting out as laboratory assistant to the renowned Dr Magnus Pyke, who might have modelled for the original mad scientist.

However, having merely to descend 21 steps from the spacious flat above the distillery is somewhat on the generous side.

And it doesn't stop there. If the attractions of making this delightful West Highland malt ever pall Kenny has only to look out of the window. That offers an enviable view over Oban's George Street to the bay, where a host of small fishing boats and ponderous Caledonian MacBrayne ferries lie at anchor.

As the inimitable Barnard records: “On the water all was life and gaiety as far as the eye could reach, and innumerable boats were seen studding the surface of the sea, and vessels of all descriptions and sizes from the lightest skiff to the biggest yacht; whilst the streets and promenade were crowded with people and enlivened with music.” And, as we sat in his office considering a range of drams, I found I was getting more and more extravagant with my tasting notes.

‘Ginger' isn't often found in whisky.

Thankfully ‘black bean sauce', ‘roasted spare ribs', ‘sweet and sour' and the cratur are entirely strangers.

Then I realised that these strange if rather delightful aromas were originating from the kitchens of the Chinese restaurant immediately opposite the distille...

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