Glenlivet Cipher

The Glenlivet Cipher (48%, OB, 2016)

  • Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: The Glenlivet Distillery
  • Bottling: Pernod Ricard
  • ABV: 48%
  • Cost: £200


What they say:

Cipher Experience

The Glenlivet Cipher is an enigma. A whisky without tasting notes, its secrets are hidden within a black bottle. What subtle flavours and elusive aromas are contained within? It’s up to you to decide.

Spoiler alert!

The mysteries of Cipher are revealed

Our latest limited edition expression is truly unique. We have used a combination of first-fill American Oak casks and first-fill sherry casks that have never been tried before in The Glenlivet portfolio. The non-chill filtering adds another original twist to The Glenlivet Cipher.

To the eye, the whisky has a pale, golden hue that hints at the proportion of first-fill American Oak cask used. On the nose, you will enjoy the playful aroma of boiled sweets with a touch of raspberry jam. While on the palate, the flavours of poached pears and cinnamon combine to give each sip a delicious autumnal warmth. The luxurious hint of dark chocolate ginger sweets adds further complexity. This is a whisky that has many intriguing aspects to explore.

The Glenlivet Cipher is a true original. Matured in Speyside, this expression balances the best of The Glenlivet’s traditions with bold, yet balanced, flavours.


Pale gold.


A fusion of boiled sweets, vanilla, honey, raspberry jam with moist raisins and spicy liquorice.


A combination of poached pears, honey, cinnamon, honeycomb candy, caramel toffee and a bit of dark chocolate ginger sweets.


Long with a warm spiciness.

What I say:

Unfortunately my chance to sample The Glenlivet Cipher arrived courtesy of Tom who was happy to share some with me. This sat languishing in my inbox until it was too late – I retrospectively tried my hand and scored abysmally (25%) on my original notes then pretty good (88%) trying to equate the aromas and flavours offered to the nearest approximation of my experience – but then that is the fun I suppose.


Orange amber gold (13/20), numerous large oily tears


Very sweet, cloying, dry sweetness like icing sugar, honey and golden syrup, fruity pear and peach led me to guess Sauternes or Madeira like wine casks, pastry or biscuit cereal malt, almond paste or marzipan, cloying yet spicy, hints of raisin, liquorice and ginger spice, catches the back of the throat, slightly perfumed with a little spirit character – acetone/nail polish remover.


Honeyed fruits, wine poached pears, wine gums or mixed fruit sweeties, sweet and syrupy on the palate with a touch of florality, thick and oily/viscous, tannic oak, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and marzipan, fruity peach and apricot – still thinking wine cask – lots of spices, tarte tatin or pear tart, almonds, hot buttered granary toast, chocolate coated raisins.


Long, drying and tannic, sherbet, zesty orange or tangerine pith and zest, apricots


Unusual, masses of sweet and tannic wood spices led me to believe this was wine cask matured but dessert or fortified wine casks – unfortunately the use of American oak and sherry casks didn’t seem to fit – also I was surprised The Glenlivet hadn’t used this cask combination before in their OB range or Nadurra type bottlings – seems pretty standard to me? So perhaps I was looking for something that just wasn’t there! Still not a bad whisky all the same but probably not worthy of the hype it generated – so a marketing and PR success! Yay.

Score: 85/100

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Categories: Glenlivet, Speyside

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