The Glenlivet ‘Cipher’

The Glenlivet PR machine is constantly at work, this time they have created another enigmatic expressions (If you remember the black bottled ‘Alpha‘ from a couple of years back). What they were aiming now is to create a whisky ‘Crafted from a unique cask combination that has never before been used by The Glenlivet’, which we the whisky drinkers would need to taste and as the PR notes: “Those that accept the challenge will begin their journey on the label by searching for one of the official flavours hidden within a cryptic code, before being directed to to face the ultimate flavour test”. So a challenge, others would call that “Yet another NAS whisky with no disclosure whatsoever”.  


What the challenge means is that you have to taste the whisky, the log into the Glenlivet site, and “guess” which notes you find on the nose, palate, and match those to what Glenlivet’s Master distiller A.Winchester’s. Ahem. Apparently you have to be synced with Alan’s nose and palate, which I do not believe is quite how we want to educate the whisky drinkers, I thought we each had a different perception of drams, as our palate and nose differ. A nice little interactive widget however. So, PR dept : you did well. I was supposed to taste this in a twitter tasting with many whisky mates from all over, but thanks to DHL who managed to screw things up (as always, thank you guys for overcharging and being assholes)

Let’s get on with the tasting notes, old style, meaning only what I figured out from the nose/palate/finish.

The Glenlivet ‘Cipher’ , NAS , 48.0% ,  $120The Glenliver Cipher

Nose: Nice one with sweet notes of ripe fruit. Banana, pineapple and icing sugar. There is also creamy vanilla and fresh flower petals, white pepper.
Palate : Spicier and less fruity than the nose with some apples, ripe peach and bitter wood. There’s also a nice honeyed sweetness that balances it well.
Finish : More apple and a sweet ripe banana with vanilla ice cream on top, dry with a touch of wood and mocha.


It is a nice whisky, although I am not sure what they really meant by cask combination that has never before been used by The Glenlivet, probably a vatting or finishing of some kinds, but that really does not say much, you could take a few ex-bourbon casks, with a virgin cask and claim it is a new vatting never done before. Anyways, it feels nice at 48%, and i quite enjoyed sipping and sniffing it, but It is not something VERY different. As for pricing, i know PR and black bottles and web sights do not come cheap, but $120 is a bit too much IMHO, for a whisky I know virtually nothing about, and does not feel very old. I’d be happy with a bottle around $80. The bottle does look cool, and you can put it in a nice place on the bar, and tell your friends all about it, so I gurss there’s that.  A good dram, a well orchestrated campaign, although I have my reservations.

Score: 84/100

Official sample provided by the Glenlivet / Whiskywire

2 thoughts on “The Glenlivet ‘Cipher’

  1. Indeed, it is quite dangerous to assume that tasting and nosing is an objective science. In my opinion, every human has its own, unique library of aroma’s and tastes. What I discover in a whiskey does not nessecary correspond with your aroma’s and tastes. But in sharing a dram, and talking about it, all these different sensory perceptions can tend to a beautiful concensius. Nice review.

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