Located on the coast about three hours northwest of Glasgow, the Oban Distillery stands guard over the Firth of Lorn while its henchmen, the islands of Lismore and Kerrera, protect it from the stormy Atlantic. This unique location allows the region's liquors to carry both the sweet, mild flavors of the mainland and the salty harshness of the sea— forming a sort of high-end surf-and-turf of scotch. The Oban 14-year-old has long been a favorite among whisky types, and now it represents the Western Highlands region as one of the well-marketed Six Classic Malts of Scotland. This year's offering transcends the 14 by almost two decades: The Oban 32 ($350) is the oldest whisky the distillery has ever released stateside.
Oban's beachfront birthing ground comes through in the 32's nose, certainly, but not as intensely as one would imagine. Instead of Islay, think old-school Atlantic City. Instead of smoldering peat, think sand castles and salt-water taffy. And because of its cask strength (55.1 percent), this whisky demands a little water for you to get beyond just the high-test pungency. Find yourself a nice, soft spring water (Highland Spring, if you can) and add generously to uncover a dry and chewy mouth-feel with tightly wrapped, leathery notes of green apple, caramel and a faint smokiness that asserts itself in the finish.
Three thousand bottles were kindly granted stateside residence. Precious few of them, however, remain. To add the Oban 32 to your collection, call your local bottle peddler or Faye Ng of New York importers Schieffelin & Somerset at 212-251-8209.
PHOTOS BY ANTHONY EDGEWORTH
You could call it the ultimate golf voyeur book. Photographer Anthony Edgeworth, who collaborated previously with writer John de St. Jorre on the book Legendary Golf Clubs of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, has now turned his attention to our own shores for the breathtaking sequel Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East ($90; published by Edgeworth Editions; 877-360-4653 or edgewortheditions.com). Within its 328 pages are more than 300 beautifully rendered photographs from a dozen of the eastern seaboard's most storied private courses and clubhouses—Seminole, The Country Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Oakmont, Merion, Pine Valley, Somerset Hills, Ekwanok, Yeamans Hall, Newport, Shinnecock Hills and National.
Edgeworth, by virtue of his almost-unprecedented access, has become the envy of his friends. "They can't get over it," he says. "I mean, since I first picked up clubs, I've never played a bad golf course. It's a great entitlement. These places where I shot are just so utterly charming—Myopia, Somerset Hills, Yeamans . . . Seminole . . . that place has got sizzle. When you get up on the practice tee there it's exciting, so much that it's tough to play well! It's like being onstage."
Accompanying these elegant, revealing and rarely seen glimpses into the worlds of some of the country's oldest and most exclusive clubs is St. Jorre's evocative and informative text, which provides a sense of context, history and—perhaps most importantly and effectively—wonder. Whether you've played or belonged to a few (or any) of these courses or only heard about them, this book is a necessary addition to your golf library.