Monday, June 25, 2018

Review - The Glenlivet Code

The Glenlivet Code is a limited edition bottling from the famous Speyside distillery that offers no product information on the bottle or packaging. Much like the Cipher from 2016 it is designed to get consumers thinking and making their own tasting notes rather than following packaging information or making assumptions on aroma and flavour from the cask type and age. The new single malt is inspired by the British codebreakers of World War II, who helped to decode German communications and messages.

Consumers are also able to take part in an interactive digital experience that can be accessed by scanning a code on the packaging or by visiting the special page on Here, they will be met by a hologram of Alan Winchester, the Master Distiller at The Glenlivet, who will challenge them to decode the liquid by selecting four aromas and four flavour profiles. These will then be scored for accuracy and ranked against others and results can be posted on social media using #TheGlenlivetCode.

“With The Glenlivet Code, we had a unique opportunity to create a whisky that has never been crafted before, using new casks and techniques to push the boundaries of what people expect from The Glenlivet. This year’s limited edition is a labyrinth of flavours that will test the senses and we are excited to invite consumers worldwide to take on the challenge of unlocking its mysteries.” 
Alan Winchester. 

The Glenlivet Code was launched back in March and was allocated to selected specialist retailers in 28 markets worldwide, although some have now sold out. The only information given on the bottle is the legally required alcohol strength, which is 48% ABV. The recommended retail price is £90/$120 US.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose is packed with toffee, fudge and overwhelming ripe tropical fruit aromas - think of pineapple, mango and banana. There are also background aromas of cake mix, yeast, golden syrup and the merest hint of white pepper.

On the palate this whisky has a freshness and vibrancy with a pleasant viscosity and mouthfeel. There is a hint of fresh green apple to begin with and this then gives way to the more tropical fruits that were present on the nose. These have a luscious quality and are reminiscent of ripe and juicy pineapples and mangoes, with hints of banana and lychee. The fruity characteristics are underpinned by a lovely sweetness - this has elements of fudge, golden syrup and moscovado sugar to it. There are also notes of bittersweet malt underneath, along with some gingerbread and that cake mix from the nose. Hints of clove, dessicated coconut and white pepper round things off well.

The finish is lovely and warming with some late spices coming through - that clove, ginger and white pepper from palate with some developing cinnamon and all-spice notes. The tropical fruitiness and fudge/toffee-like notes gradually fade to reveal some white chocolate right at the end.

What's the verdict?
The Glenlivet Code, like the previous Cipher, is an intriguing idea and a well executed one at that. They both allow consumers to interact with a brand in a way that we cannot remember seeing before. The intrigue is added to by the fact that there is no information given and naturally leads to questions being asked - what type of casks are used? Is it a combination of casks? What is the age? The whisky itself is luscious and fruity with plenty of depth and complexity. It will be interesting to find out more details as and when they are revealed.