Back in 2013 The Glenlivet released a whisky called Alpha with no tasting notes, no cask details and an opaque black bottle. ‘Twas quite good fun as everybody tried to guess the production technique used, before the eventual reveal (on that occasion they’d used casks conditioned with Scotch as opposed to bourbon or Sherry, unique for The Glenlivet).
Now it seems we’re being treated to a new mystery, a cipher, in fact! Master Distiller Alan Winchester once again invites us to decipher the secrets of a unique single malt…It’s big, bad, and bold. Everything I was expecting given the brooding bottle. A full on whisky bursting with flavour. One thing this product does, is create conversation.
This is what all Glenlivets should be! Firstly no hint of colouring in the taste, secondly no chill filtering! Hallelujah!! It is clearly bourbon aged, then finished. I tasted it side by side with the 48% ABV 16yo Nadurra. Both exceptional but the Cipher is absolute perfection.
Nose: Honey, vanilla toffee, peardrops, and banana foams to begin. Goosberries, candied fruit peel and a touch of raspberry jam. Then, a rich woodspice – cinnamon – along with raisins, juicy sultanas and some ginger too.
Palate: Caramel fudge, toffee, Crunchie bars and honey. Then the big woodspice note is back along with a hint of chocolate and some stewed fruits – pears and apples. There’s a light floral note lurking around too.
Finish: Long, intense woodspice. Juicy oak and nutty notes combine for a lingering finish.