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Cigar Spirits: Oban Bay Reserve The Night’s Watch Single Malt Whisky

23 Oct 2019

Pop culture and whiskey have become a natural pairing. Just look at the list of celebrities who have lent their name to recently: Bob Dylan, Drake, Conor McGregor, Metallica, Matthew McConaughey, and even Nick Offerman. Likewise, television shows and movies are hardly immune to whisky crossovers; for example, Lost in Translation (Suntory Japanese Whisky), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Old Forester Statesman), and Walking Dead (Spirits of the Apocalypse).

Yet no pop culture brand seems to have cashed in on the Hollywood/Whiskey connection more than Game of Thrones. As it entered its eighth and (frankly underwhelming) final season, the HBO series partnered with spirits giant Diageo for an extended line of scotch whiskies. And partner they did.

Three Johnnie Walker blended scotch whiskeys were introduced (White Walker, followed more recently by two others). Most notable, though, is the line of exclusive single malt whiskies, each from a different distillery under the Diageo umbrella. Eight whiskies from eight distilleries represent seven of the major houses from the series, plus the Night’s Watch. (Another Game of Thrones single malt, a 15-year-old from Mortlach, is on its way too.)

Today I’m tasting the Oban Bay Reserve: The Night’s Watch, which seems to be one of the harder to find offerings in the line. Made at the Highland distillery Oban, it is 43% ABV, NAS (no age statement), and sells for $63 per bottle. This makes it more expensive than the NAS Oban Little Bay offering, but less expensive than the popular 14 Year Old Oban.

The single malt pours a dark golden color with a nose boasting orange peel, malt, melon, light smoke, caramel, and solvent. On the palate, it has orange zest, waxy honey, red fruits, sea salt, and oak. The finish is medium in length with clove, oak, and powdered milk flavors.

Oban is known for blending the dry, smoky, peat-influenced style of Islay with the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands. While this spirit is no exception, I’d prefer a little more of the Islay influence. Apparently, because it’s hard to find, some stores are selling this for over $100 a bottle. But at that price you are far better off buying the 14 Year Old, which sells for around $70. At its normal MSRP of $63, The Night’s Watch is a reasonable value, considering you are paying for some Game of Thrones marketing. But I wouldn’t rush out to grab another bottle.

It pairs well with a fuller-bodied Dominican cigar. Particularly recommended are the Paul Garmirian Symphony 20th, Arturo Fuente Opus X, and La Aurora 107.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

One Response to “Cigar Spirits: Oban Bay Reserve The Night’s Watch Single Malt Whisky”

  1. cj Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 11:26 am #

    cool review…been wondering about this series