I don’t talk about blended whisky very often and I know I probably should. Everyone will tell you the blended whisky market is the bread and butter which supports almost the entire operation in Scotland. This might be true but too much is just not drinkable for me and that is probably a problem. If you go back even 50 or 60 years then blended was best and no-one would tell you any different. It was thought that single malts were too intensely flavoured to be enjoyed on their own and that would be even more the case for Islay based products. Indeed in a Islay documentary from the 1960’s about the changing face of the Islay the Laphroaig owner Bettie Williamson said exactly that.
If you read the book by Pip Hill on his Scotch Malt Whisky Society and his life he suggests he started the trend for single cask and single malts but whatever the history now single malts are definitely king. The blend market is still huge but the kudos is all for the single malts. The popularity of these has led to the reduction in the quantity of single malt in blends and this has only reduced the quality in my opinion. Which is of course doing no favours for the sector and only making huge brands even less popular. This can be easily proven as well if you go to a tasting of the same blends bought today and those bought at auction from the 1960/80/90. The Antiquary blend though is one which is known for not having lost its roots and still contains 25% single malt.
Owned by the same company which owns Tomatin it can be assumed this blend contains some from that distillery sitting between Aviemore and Inverness. The 12 year old sits as the second in the lineup behind the harder to find 21 year old and unseen in real life 35 year old. Bottled at the standard minimum of 40% ABV this will be coloured and filtered and all the usual blended whisky stuff. There is not a lot of this available and I have only seen it online. Expect to pay around £30 in the UK for what Jim Murray (that guy) gave 92 points in 2013.
Colour – whisky
Nose – sweet nose with a chemical sweetener note. Touch of caramel and a prickle of pine cone
Palate – medium texture and a small amount of mouth feel. More caramel but only slight. Some chilli and a background hint of smoke, very slight.
Finish – Short finish with wood sap sweetness and caramel
A good blend which has an old fashioned feel. There is a decent amount of cask influence and a pinch of smoke all sitting on top of sweet and saccharine grain whisky. The last blend I enjoyed was fromThe Islay Boys and this is perhaps better.