Nantou is the other Taiwanese distillery; Omar is the name of their single malt; this particular release is presumably all from bourbon casks. Omar is a relatively new brand—just about a decade old. Lest you think this is one of my more esoteric reviews, it is actually available in the US (though this is a review of the 2016 release). I’ve had a low-level curiosity about Nantou/Omar for a while and so when Michael K. of Diving for Pearls asked me if I was interested in a sample, I jumped at it (read his review here). The current release can actually be found for what is a fairly low price in the current single malt whisky market—a place in New York lists it for $40; to be fair, the median price seems quite a bit higher and in Minnesota the lowest I can see on Winesearcher is twice that at the local Total Wine. Still, quite a bit cheaper than your average Kavalan cask which is probably not very much older. Will it be as good as the average Kavalan cask though? Let’s see.
Nantou “Omar”, Bourbon Type (46%; 2016 Release; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Dusty oak at first, mixed in with some lemon. As it sits there’s some cereals, some leafy, compost notes and some sweetness somewhere between oak and plum. No off-notes whatsoever. With a few drops of water there’s more of the plum and less of the oak and a bit of rose/incense.
Palate: More or less as predicted by the nose—oak, cereals, some indistinct sweetness. The texture is surprisingly full at 46%. The oak takes the lead on the second sip but it’s not tannic or otherwise offensive. Not much change with time. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, the oak gets more bitter and the cereal retreats.
Finish: Medium. There’s not a whole lot happening here. The leafy note pops out again along with some peppery oak. With time the cereals make it here too. As on the palate with water: it’s longer but features more bitter oak.
Comments: A decent, inoffensive malt. No flaws but no real character to really recommend it. A good blend alternative but not much more and probably better with ice and/or quite a bit more than a few drops of water. I’m certainly not interested at the MN price and probably wouldn’t buy it at $40 either. But I’d not turn down a pour if offered.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample.