The Antiquary 21 Years Old Scotch Whisky (1980’s bottling)

Blended scotch whisky

43% ABV, £45 for 70cl

Score: 73/100

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What they say:

This is a 21 year old expression from The Antiquary, described by critics as complex and elegant. The more modern version is produced by the Tomatin distillery, however this particular bottling was produced under the old ownership.

From http://www.whiskymerchants.co.uk/#/antiquary/4534874452

John and William Hardie form their partnership ( J & W Hardie Ltd) at their premises in Greenside Place , Edinburgh in 1857. First blended in 1888.‘The Antiquary’ is named after a novel by the famous Scottish author sir Walter Scott. Like many a first edition it’s popularity has never been dampened by its rarity. With each new chapter this superb twelve year old whisky with its full , smooth , and yet subtle flavour has grown to become a true classic.

The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd acquired J & W Hardie Ltd and the Antiquary brand in 1995 from United Distillers. Today it acts as the brand export company for the distillery. The Antiquary Scotch Whisky has always had a loyal following of consumers in the UK, Portugal and Spain. With secondary distribution in  USA, Japan, Italy, Andorra, Singapore, The Philippines, Denmark, Russia, France, Taiwan, China, Canada, West Africa, South Africa, India and Iceland. Sales Volumes peaked at around 46000 cases in 1968

The Antiquary is produced as 12 and 21 year old Superior Deluxe Blended Scotch Whiskies. The packaging developed for both ages is particularly innovative with the 12 year old scooping a Silver medal at the 2004 Starpack packaging awards and the 21 year old being awarded a gold at the same event in 2006. As well as being pioneering and attractive the award winning packaging design allows for a more efficient use of space for shipping and shelf display.

The distinctive diamond shaped Antiquary bottle is complemented by outstanding packaging design with the elegant presentation incorporating an innovative pop-out coaster in the lid , featuring three of Scotland’s most  famous castles, Edinburgh , Culzean and Eilean Donan. The Antiquary brand is stepped in history but its modern award winning design makes it appealing to a broad spectrum of age groups and to both men and woman.

Blending The Antiquary
The Antiquary has a particularly high percentage of malt to grain whiskies (55% – 45%). The finest available malts and grains have been selected from the Highlands , lowlands , and islands of Scotland. The heart of the blend consists of some of the finest Scotch Whiskies from the Speyside area home of complex , rich fruity and delicately balanced Malts such as Cragganmore, Linkwood, Benrinnes, Mortloch and Glenrothes. Distilleries in the Highlands such as Tomatin, Royal Lochnagar and Clynelish contribute a complexity of malt and full flavoured aromas to the blend. Soft and fruity lowlands such as Glenkinchie tone down the robustness of the heavier Highlands and Islay Malt Bowmore gives just a hint of peatiness to the overall flavour profile. The use of Grain whiskies  – Cameronbridge and Port Dundas – ensure that the blend retains a high level of freshness and liveliness. In all around 30 different malts and grains are used in the blend , all matured in American white oak casks for a minimum of 12 or 21 years.

What I say:

Dram No. 2.1 at the Jolly Toper Christmas Tasting (18th December 2014) was this gem from the back of a supermarket shelf in Glasgow (apparently). This was an old style bottling of The Antiquary 21 Year Old blended scotch whisky, from before they moved to using the design award-winning faceted bottles. Bottled perhaps in the 1980’s?

Colour:

Full gold

Nose:

Light, fresh, cereal flour/grist, honey, grassy/ new mown hay, slightly vegetal and smoke hints

Taste:

Smooth, vanilla cream, coconut, nutmeg and pepper spice, caramel or butterscotch fudge, toffee oak, some fruit apple and pear

Finish:

Short and sweet and smooth

Overall:

Of the 2 blended drams we sampled this was my least favourite – too smooth and not a lot going on in this one for me. Perhaps bottle ageing hadn’t been good to this classic blend?