The Antiquary 21 year old is a primarily a blend of Speyside and Highland whiskies (and being owned by Tomatin, no prizes for guessing one of the big constituents – 30% I’ve read) with a dash of something smoky from Islay to make up a total malt content of over 50%. The remaining half of the blend comes from a selection of grain whiskies. It’s bottled at 43% ABV and costs around £80.
Nose: Clean and fresh with a plenty of garden/field aroma – apple orchard, grass and hay. Sweetness is provided by golden syrup and gentle toffee and supported by digestive biscuits and a bowl of milk drenched cereal. Deeper there are some really musty tones here – wet leaves – not quite dunnage warehouse, more damp cellar. Gentle white pepper provides additional interest. After a period of resting, fruit levels increase with addition of hedgerow berries – the sherry cask influence coming to bear the longer this is left in the glass.
Taste: Quite silky, but also slightly thin feeling – this walks the tightrope of ‘smooth’ vs. underpowered. The arrival is quite malty – but also quite quite sweet. It delivers crab apples, honey, toffee and sugar-coated summer fruits. Cereal flavours, corn and a touch of rawness follow in the mid to back palate. Pepperiness runs throughout, starting gently, but steadily building and adding a dry edge to the sweeter elements. Resting this one is somewhat interesting, it adds caramel, vanilla and wisps of gentle smoke, but at the same time really amps up the dryness levels to moisture sucking levels.
Finish: Medium in length and emphasising pepper, dustiness and a hint of burnt wood/peat smoke.
The Antiquary 21 year old is an easy-going no thrills blended whisky. It’s generally well balanced and sweet, though some may find these elements either over-engineered or over-saccharine. Solid, workman-like. Nothing more.
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