Tomatin 40yo 1967/2007 (42.9%, OB, Seven Bourbon Hogsheads, 1614 bottles)

As can be read on these pages, Tomatin rarely disappoints. There is always room on my lectern for a tropical Tomatin. Especially older Tomatins quite hit the mark with fabulous aroma’s of tropical and citrus fruits for which it is known. Tomatin has a high reputation with bourbon cask only bottlings like the 15yo that has been discontinued to be replaced with the 14yo port finish. The 25yo has been discontinued too, which also was made with Bourbon casks only. Now, here we have a 40yo Tomatin formed from seven Bourbon Hogsheads with distillate from 1967. You may have heard of The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper? Yes 1967. And this is still available. How is that possible? Is this bottling a dud of some sorts? Time to find out…

Tomatin 40yo 1967/2007 (42.9%, OB, Seven Bourbon Hogsheads, 1614 bottles)Color: Copper brown gold.

Nose: Sweet and fruity, quite typical for older Tomatins. Lots of vanilla and quite thick. Highly aromatic. Quite syrupy too. Hints of mint and black coal and even some tar and sweets. Complex with lots of development. Give it time. Almonds are coming through after a while. Great nuttiness, rarely seen in Tomatin. Fruity, dusty and dirty at times. Great.

Taste: Fruity again, but also some bitter hops, waxy bitter wood. Elegant. Sweet and brittle at the same time. Lovely waxy stewed and candied fruits towards the finish. Lovely vanilla, with memories of old wood in the back. Apricot and vanilla pudding with fresh and acidic red berry sauce on top. Hints of mint are here in the taste as well. Fabulous development built up in layers and a lovely finish to boot. At the end of the finish the expected woody bitterness (and pencil shavings with almonds) appear or stay behind when the momentarily overpowering waxy fruitiness dissipates. Sweet almond cookies are all over this Malt. The taste is less complex than the nose and shows a surprising fruity freshness and youthfulness.

Malts like this were reasonably expensive when they came out and prices have been rising ever since. However, modern malts can never be like this anymore. So why dish out 300 euro’s for a modern 12yo generic special edition when you can pay a measly 100 more and get yourself a museum-piece still readily available on the market today. This is history in a bottle. Isn’t that worth something?

Points: 89


Bunnahabhain 40yo 1972/2012 (44.6%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, CM 184, 346 bottles)

Recently I reviewed an anonymous Bunnahabhain by David Stirk. That expression was heavy on Sherry. Here we have another Bunnahabhain, much older, and much lighter. As with all Golden Casks, this is again a cask that was picked by John McDougall. John has a big, big history in Whisky, so in the time when it is pretty hard for independent bottlers to find an exceptional cask, John still might be able to find one. Let’s see how this oldie he picked is holding up.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Waxy and old smelling (old bottle effect). Fatty wood, with hints of licorice and maybe even some lavas. The profile is also fruitier with pineapple, and dried apricots. It doesn’t have any apparent peat. I do detect, however, some smoke, some chalk and butter. Hints of latex wall paint and custard. Quite a list of funny aroma’s for this Bunnahabhain if you ask me. The most striking aroma of them all is the very special waxy oldness it oozes.

Taste: Interesting, at first a combination of white wine, wood and slightly bitter beer. Licorice again with toffee, but the whole is quite dry and light. The initial attack is there, but the body is already light and the finish is not very long. The more this Whisky gets a chance to breathe, for instance in the glass, the more bitter it gets. It’s still easy within limits, so not to worry. Lacks a bit of power though if you ask me. This cask strength Whisky was bottled at 44.6%, so the angels particularly liked it!

At first, it even shows some similarities to 1972 Caperdonichs, with this exceptionally waxyness, but soon it gets much simpler or should I say lighter. Especially the body of those 1972 Caperdonichs are quite full, whereas this Bunnahabhain has a more lighter style to it. A bit brittle or fragile, but this Bunnahabhain does have the old wax and wood, that Whisky these day just don’t have and with modern techniques, will never be made like this again. So treat this Bunna gently and see it as a time capsule of some sorts.

Points: 86

Glenfarclas 40yo 1965/2006 “Blairfindy” (51.7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry Cask #1850, 194 bottles)

Well hello Blairfindy! Wait a minute, Blairfindy isn’t a real distillery is it? As far as I know, there isn’t a Blairfindy distillery, and there never was one too. No, Blairfindy turns out to be “another” name for Glenfarclas, used, when the bottlers weren’t allowed to use the real distillery name on their labels. Something like Tactical for Talisker, Leapfrog or Laudable for Laphroaig and so on. Blairfindy, amongst others, was the name of the farm, the Grant family (of Glenfarclas fame) originated from. Although the Glenfarclas name isn’t on the label, it most definitely is a Glenfarclas, and an old one to boot…

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: For me a typical perfumy Fino Sherry nose. Definitively a wine note up front, quickly chased by quite some wood. Toffee and caramel, with a hint of sweat (no typo). It gets more fresh after a while. Hints of car-wax and even later some black fruits. The smell of burning off dry leaves in the garden combined with a small hint of licorice. It all comes across a bit harsh, dry, dusty and powdery, but nice. I hope this doesn’t translate into the palate. Lets see…

Taste: Yes, not very sweet, but luckily not as woody and dry the nose suggested. Earwax and wood. Some drying tannins on the tongue, but hey, it was on a cask for forty years! The wood then becomes spicy. Although some people might consider this too dry, for me the wood isn’t that dominant. It is dry, but it definitely has a charm to it. Elegant stuff. No bitterness whatsoever. The finish is half long, and breaks down a bit into some sourness, toast and tar. The body is strong so it can take this sourness very well, and the light toast and tar add to the character of the Whisky.

Despite everything, this still is an easily drinkable Whisky. Great old Glenfarclas that fetch enormous amounts of money these days. Yes, the market is rapidly changing…

Points: 88