Antiquary 21 Years Review

“A Semi-Precious Stone”

Country: Scotland
Brand: The Antiquary (Gold Box)
Type: Blended Whisky
Blended By: J & W Hardie Ltd, Glasgow (Tomatin)
Age: 21 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 615
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Good Blend. Negative Price/Quality Ratio.

Colour: Light Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: There is a nice balance between the Bourbon - and Sherry casks but the Grain Alcohol is still quite noticeable. It's rather Light and Clean for a 21 Year old Blend. Sweet, Medium-Dry and Malty with very distant hints of Grassy Peat and light Smoke. I also pick up Sweet Cereals, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Straw, Dried Herbs, Dusty Road, Banana Flavoured Candy, Citrus, Black Currant Jam, Cooked Apples, Cinnamon, light Menthol, Aniseed, Refill Oak casks and traces of Pepper and Nuts. Most of the Aromas are merely impressions and it takes quite some time to identify them. You would expect some clearer notes after 21 Years which leads me to the conclusion that (most of) the casks weren't very active. After more than an hour I also got an additional Tropical Fruit note but I can't pin it down. Honey Melon perhaps. 

Palate: Slightly Bland and Thin Delivery. An ABV of 46% would have been more adequate. On the Palate, the Antiquary is mainly Sweet with clear notes of Malt, Cereals, Fruit and Spices. the Impressions of Flavours include Sweet Cereals, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, Straw, Heather-Honey, Cooked Apples, Citrus, Dried Figs, Melon, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Aniseed and a mere hint of Peat.

Finish: Long, Fruity and Pleasantly Sweet. Quite Mineral towards the end. I find Red Apples, Banana, Melon, Pear, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Fudge, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Oak, Walnuts, Grain Alcohol , Aniseed, Menthol and a very faint hint of Peat. My favourite part of this Blend.    

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes extra Fruity - and Floral. Palate and Finish don't take the water quite as well.

Rating: 84       

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

The Antiquary Blend was produced for the first time in 1888 in Edinburgh by John & William Hardie. The name derives from a novel by Sir Walter Scott. The diamond-shaped bottle and presentation are quite nice. J & W Hardie Ltd in Glasgow was bought in 1995 by the Tomatin Distillery Company Ltd. The Blend contains around 55% Malt Whisky, a high percentage. All in all some 30 Grain - and Malt whiskies are used for the Antiquary. The heart of the Blend is Speyside, represented by a/o Glenrothes, Mortlach, Benrinnes, Linkwood and Cragganmore. Highland malts include Tomatin, Royal Lochnagar and Clynelish while the Lowlands are represented by Glenkinchie. A touch of Bowmore takes care of the subtle peated part of the Blend. The Grain Whiskies are from Camaronbridge and Port Dundas. Maturation takes place in a mix of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks. The average price of the Blend lies around 90 US Dollars (May 2017).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good  

Conclusion: The Antiquary 21 years is certainly a very big step forward when compared to the Antiquary 12 Years I reviewed earlier. The 21 Years is a good Blend as it should be given the spicy price-tag. But it's not an exceptional blend and there are two main reasons for that. First of all I suspect that the Malts used did not mature in very active casks. And secondly, as a result, the Grain Alcohol remains quite prominent despite the high Malt content. On the outside the Antiquary 21 years indeed shines like a Diamond with its nice packaging and bottle. The Whisky itself is more like a semi-precious stone. Good but not Great! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                      May 30, 2017


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