Originally Posted by jwise
The Oban is not really a "Highland", but a Western Highland. It is unique, and not to be confused with the flavor profiles of other Highlands.
As for a sophisticated Speyside, I need to know what sophisticated means. I would take it to mean subtle, complex, but not challenging. Smooth. I am thinking of my favorite Speyside of them all, Glenrothes. I would go with the '91, as it is cheaper than the '89 or '85 (and almost as good). I have not yet tried the '94 or '98, so I don't know if they would be a good "sophisticated" Speyside.
I'm afraid that I don't understand the statement, "The Oban is not really a "Highland" but a Western Highland".
ALL Highland Malts are broken down into sub-regions ( districts ) of the Highlands. Those sub-regions ( districts ) being: Speyside, Northern Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, and Highland Islands. Oban is as much a Highland as Macallan is a Highland, or even Talisker.
Many people have a misconception that to be a true Highland, the whisky must be produced in Speyside. Speyside is just another sub-region and happens to possess the largest concentration of distilleries that produces a unique flavor profile as the Northern Highlands has a unique flavor profile of it's own. I have read comments in this forum that state that Speysides are not Highlands, BUT Speysides. To reiterate, Speyside is a sub-region classification of scotch whisky from the Highlands as the other sub-regions. SPEYSIDE IS NOT A MAJOR CLASSIFICATION. SPEYSIDE FALLS INTO THE HIGHLAND CATEGORY. There are only FOUR MAJOR CLASSIFICATIONS OF SCOTCH WHISKY: HIGHLANDS, LOWLANDS, CAMPBELTOWN, AND ISLAY.