Review: Tomatin 40 (42.9%)

A few months ago I had the unnerving experience of turning forty. Forty, for heaven’s sake. Half way through a decent innings or almost done with a shit one. Contrary to what I had been led to believe, I didn’t wake up imbued with wisdom. There was no urge to buy a fast car, I’ve yet to download Tinder in an attempt to stave off a mid-life crisis and, to date, my gentleman’s garden remains ungreyed.

That’s not to say that I’m immune to the sheer devastation time can heap upon a person. My hairline has fallen out with with my face, crows appear to have been dancing a tarantella in the corners of my eyes and by turning my head I can make my neck do a half-decent impression of an angry child with a roll of bubble wrap.

While there is no doubting that time can take the sting out of a person, having a zero at the end of your age is no guarantee of anything other than you’ll bore other people to tears mentioning it. Did I tell you I’m forty now?

A few years ago, while in the middle of a Tomatin infatuation, I decided to buy the subject of today’s review and squirrel it away for the big day. This was a time when people had a sense of humour, men bought razors and independent bottlings represented good value. I appreciate this last one may provoke snorts of derision. Consequently, it cost just north of a couple of hundred pounds.

The whisky is a marriage of seven bourbon casks containing spirit distilled in 1967 and was bottled at natural strength without chill-filtration.


  • In the 1970s Tomatin produced 12.5 million litres of spirit a year, enough for five Olympic-sized swimming pools or three Dundonian weddings.
  • It’s reputed that anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of Tomatin goes into blended whisky. Evidently, the remainder is in my back bedroom.
  • The visitor centre offers a virgin oak bottle-your-own, which is proof that people will buy any old shit on holiday.

NoseThis is good. Candied oranges, beeswax, wood varnish and walnuts. It’s missing the grapefruit notes I normally find in these old Tomatins, but still a pleasure to sniff.
PalatePolished wood, baked marmalade (think bread and butter pudding) and aniseed balls. A little overdone and, dare I say it, slightly flat.
FinishA decent amount of wax, a fair bit of wood (without getting too grippy) and some bitter chocolate.
ThoughtsA welcome taste of yesteryear but it’s lacking the fruity quality you find in some of the truly great Tomatins.

Age may bring class, but it also takes away vitality, and this a perfect example of that. Bottled three or four years earlier, we could be looking at greatness. Still slick, but can’t help feeling it’s a little past its prime. On that front, I can relate.

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