The Glenlivet Cipher is, as the name might suggest, a bit of a mystery. This limited edition run of single malt scotch is delivered in an opaque black bottle, bereft of the tasting notes that so many of us love to read, nod wisely at, and use to pretend we know much more about whisky than we really do. You’ll find no mention of toffee on the nose or oak on the palate, no vanilla notes and no smooth finish. You’re on your own here.
The challenge, you see, is to figure out what the Cipher tastes of yourself, in a sort of strange virtual game of wits against the Glenlivet master distiller. Crack open the bottle, load up the website, watch a couple of portentous videos and prove to yourself just how little you really know about whisky tasting.
If you’ve got the palate for it, the aim is to pick out the six aromas and six flavours supposedly lurking inside – along with correctly identifying how strong each is. There’s one hidden on the bottle’s label (hint: it’s not ‘wet goose’, the first thing I spotted in the mini-word search), and there are a couple of extra clue videos to help you out if you’re totally stuck.
At the end of it all, you’re given a score – though, tantalisingly, not the correct answers, lest they be spoiled online, presumably. You’ll have to wait a few months to find out what’s really going on in there.
Sure, the whole thing is basically a glorified BuzzFeed quiz (‘Which Disney princess are you based on what you taste in this whisky?’) but there is some very tasty scotch at the heart of it all. Then again, I only got 51%, so maybe you shouldn’t take my word for it.
Words by Dominic Preston