The Glenlivet Cipher (2016)
Now what to make of the new The Glenlivet Cipher. The Cipher is a whisky with an interactive aspect. Nothing about the make-up of the whisky has been released. Not the age nor the cask types used. And there’s a reason for that.
If you’re cynical, you might say the reason is to sell young whisky for a lot of money. But the reason The Glenlivet gives us, is that they want the consumer to decode the tasting notes of the Cipher. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:
“The journey to decode the tasting notes of The Glenlivet Cipher begins on the label of the bottle, where the first clue appears with a prompt to visit the official The Glenlivet microsite at cipher.theglenlivet.com. Once online, Alan Winchester lays down the challenge to decipher the tasting notes through a video. Visitors to the site are encouraged to create a flavour wheel by selecting six aromas for the nose and six flavours for the palate, indicating the strength of each, resulting in more than 10,000 possible flavour combinations.”
Obviously The Glenlivet Cipher is a marketing ploy, but let’s try to look beyond that. So let’s move on and taste the damn thing.
The Glenlivet Cipher (48%, OB, 2016)
Nose: Buttery and fruity with subtle beeswax, a peppery edge and a touch of glue. Notes of pineapple and ripe banana peel. Sweet vanilla, as well as a floral touch.
Taste: Honey with roasted almonds and bitter wood. Less fruity than the nose, a small amount of tinned pineapple and a hint of nectarine.
Finish: Soft and mellow. Apple peel and baked bananas. Medium in length. A tad dry.
It’s a pretty good whisky, but nothing to get too excited about. I’ve no idea if my notes compare favorably to Alan Winchester’s notes, but then again, I honestly don’t care. Tasting whisky is first and foremost something very subjective and personal and can’t be quantified in a percentage. The Glenlivet Cipher retails at over a hundred pounds.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.