19 June 2016

The Glenlivet Cipher

Undoubtedly whisky is as sensational as it is subjective, and it’s always a genuine thrill to hear the sensory journeys of others; their thoughts and tasting notes on the drams that I've grown to love over the years or have yet to be acquainted with.

One of the highlights for me personally when hosting tasting events, be that group or our Twitter trending Tweet Tastings, is hearing the fresh, un-blinkered, un-over analysed feedback and descriptors from those just starting out on their whisky journeys.

Although sometimes slightly hesitant to begin with, fearing that when they reveal what they’ve uncovered and discovered will sound strange or different to the notes of fellow tasters, those new to such events are always reassured when you tell them plain and simply, "there is no right or wrong answer" and that they should always trust and believe in their own senses and initial instincts.

Whisky is indeed subjective and we all pick up different things, be that due to differences and sensitivities in how we all nose and taste, or more emotive reasons such as memories of holidays or pick and mix sweet preferences as a child.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be newbies again, blinded and none the wiser about a whisky's age or cask constituents, as we pour and explore it for the first time, and really put our senses to an untainted test? Well thanks to The Glenlivet we can!

Following on from their tantalising, teasing and very tropical limited Alpha bottling in 2013, The Glenlivet has released another mysterious blank, black, bottling, with practically no printed information on the bottle or its packaging apart for its ABV of 48%, and of course its name, The Glenlivet Cipher.

Shrouded in mystery, this latest release from the multi-ward winning Speyside distillery, has been launched to push the boundaries of flavour exploration, and invites whisky enthusiasts to embark on a flavour journey to decode the secret tasting notes of The Glenlivet Cipher.

In addition to being invited to uncover and uncrack the code of the official tasting notes by Glenlivet’s Master Distiller Alan Winchester via cipher.theglenlivet.com whisky enthusiasts will also be able to input their tasting notes and find out how close they have come to cracking The Glenlivet Cipher.

We were recently lucky enough to be able to sample this new mysterious drop of maltage from The Glenlivet, and here’s what we managed to discover and decipher:

The nose: kicks off with a feisty, fruity fiesta of sauternes poached pears, grilled pineapple rings, pink lady apples and sumptuous demerara rum soaked raisins.

Stem ginger, vanilla fudge, pear drops and a Cadbury’s crunchie bar, make for the next set of nasal niceties, along with heather honey and wisps of botanically bodacious anise, chamomile, juniper and wild time.

Cinnamon sticks, mixed citrus peel, blackberries, wood spice and ground-ettes of white pepper, then help to provide a bounty of balance, along with something that can only be described as florally musk-esque.

The palate: kicks off with a decadently delicious dessert trolley of pineapple upside down sponge, Jamaica ginger cake and chocolate salted caramel brownies, all served with a good drenching of Madagascan vanilla custard.

The dessert theme continues, but heading in more of the direction of your five a day, with spiced baked apples stuffed with blackberries, grilled peaches, stewed prunes and more of those sauternes poached pears.

Orange peel, smoked walnuts, anise, roaring wood spice and oodles of opulent charred oak, make for the final sprinkling of palatable pleasures along with a feisty floral freshness.

In addition to our tasting notes, we also took the challenge of trying to crack Alan Winchesters official tasting notes via The Glenlivet website, but only managed a pityfull score of 60%. If you’re lucky enough to grab a bottle of this rather gutsy, giving and lively livet, head to cipher.theglenlivet.com and see if you can decipher the latest release from The Glenlivet.

Can you decipher The Glenlivet Cipher?