Proprietor of The Antiquary blended Scotch, and former licensee of Benromach distillery.
The Antiquary Profile
Blended Scotch Whisky
Named after the 1816 gothic novel by Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary is a Victorian blend with Edinburgh roots that now falls under Japanese ownership. Early bottles featured a caricature of one of Scott’s main characters (likely the antiquary himself, Jonathan Oldbuck) on the label.
Today The Antiquary is sold as a no-age-statement, 12-year-old and 21-year-old, as well as a limited edition 35-year-old. A high proportion of Highland and Speyside malts (45%) provide typical citrus and vanilla notes, while a dash of Islay malt accounts for its light smokiness.
The unique diamond-esque bottle shape, which is now synonymous with the brand, was introduced in the mid-20th century and has been retained through subsequent changes in ownership.
The Antiquary History
James Hardie set up as a tea, wine and spirits merchant in Picardy Place, Edinburgh in 1861. His sons John and William soon joined him in the business and like so many other merchants in the city, moved into blending in 1880 as J&W Hardie Ltd.
The business quickly established its own steady supply of grain whisky as one of the founding shareholders in Edinburgh’s North British distillery in 1887. The following year the brothers registered one of their blends – The Antiquary – as a brand.
J&W Hardie sold The Antiquary brand in 1917 to J&G Stewart, which was itself taken over by the DCL in the same year. J&G Stewart had owed the DCL some £6,000 after the conglomeration bailed the blender out of bankruptcy some 20 years earlier.
The brand and its founder were reunited when, in 1948, J&W Hardie was also absorbed by the DCL and the licence for The Antiquary returned to its original producer. Hardie later became a subsidiary of William Sanderson & Son Ltd, which had been taken over by the DCL in 1937.
By the early 1980s The Antiquary had become a global sensation, widely available in countries such as Venzuela, Paraguay, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Japan and Andorra.
In 1996 J&W Hardie was bought by the Tomatin Distillery Co. Ltd, which had been under Japanese ownership since 1985. The move signalled the owner’s confidence in entering the premium blended Scotch whisky market with an established and reputable brand.
The Antiquary was given a makeover in 2015 to modernise the brand for a younger audience and highlight its unique bottle shape.
Today the blend counts France, Portugal, Russia, Angola, the UK and the US among its most successful markets.
- 1861 James Hardie opens a wine, spirit and tea shop in Edinburgh
- 1888 The Antiquary is first registered as a brand by J&W Hardie Ltd
- 1917 J&G Stewart acquires The Antiquary brands and joins the DCL in the same year
- 1937 Wm Sanderson & Son Ltd joins the DCL
- 1948 J&W Hardie is taken over by the DCL. The licence to produce The Antiquary reverts to J&W Hardie sometime thereafter
- 1996 J&W Hardie is acquired by Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd
- 2015 The Antiquary range is redesigned and relaunched globally
Distillery & brand
Japanese-owned malt distillery.