The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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26  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 SCOTCH REPORT Wrapped in a Mystery L ast issue, I mentioned the fact that Chivas Brothers' The Glenlivet had knocked Glenfiddich off its long-time top spot as the world's best- selling single malt. That's no easy task, and as a brand gets larger and larger, it becomes ever harder to think of genuinely new ways to engage with the loyal consum- ers who helped build it in the first place. So full marks to The Glenlivet for releasing an expression that asks the drinker to do some work. It's called The Glenlivet Cipher, and apart from admit- ting to the 48% ABV strength, the pack tells you nothing. There are no tasting notes, no age statement and, as the bottle is an intimidating black, you can't even see the color (or how much you have left!). It's a puzzle, which the brand is inviting its fans to unlock by visiting a dedicated microsite at where they will find a set of videos narrated by The Glenlivet's Alan Winchester, challenging visitors to create their own tasting notes. Visitors to the site create a flavor wheel by selecting aromas for the nose and palate. With more than 10,000 possible flavor combina- tions, there's plenty to challenge even the most expert taster. Additional support— including tasting tips from Winchester and some helpful clues—allows fans to decode the taste and those without a bottle can learn more about the whisky tasting experience. Once their personal flavor wheel has been created, users will receive a percentage score that can be shared on social media, to generate conversation between fellow whisky enthusi- asts. While some of that conver- sation is already expressing dismay at the recommended $120 price tag, the general reaction seems to vary between curiosity and a determination to crack the mystery. Meanwhile, over the Irish Sea, The Glenlivet's sister company, Irish Distillers (both are part of the Pernod Ricard empire), has been busy developing a new structure for its family of Irish whiskeys which, claims the distiller, represents "a unique re-interpretation of the super- premium whiskey category." The new portfolio consists of The Whiskey Makers Series, a range of heritage whiskeys, and the Deconstructed Series, with the original Jameson Irish Whiskey at the core. Together, the new portfolio showcases the brand's rich heritage and clearly shows Jameson's ambition to maintain its global leadership of Irish whiskey in the face of many new challengers. According to Daniel Lundberg, Global Brand Director for Jameson, "The restructure of the Jameson fam- ily is the most significant move in our brand's recent history. This is an exceptionally exciting development that positions Jameson at the forefront of innovation and advance within the Irish whiskey category." But innovation is not the exclusive property of the Irish category, nor is it limited to marketing. Despite their long history of production, Scotch distilleries continue to experi- ment and engage with issues such as energy efficiency and waste reduction. But not at the expense of unique and different flavors—at least, that is the aim of the brand new InchDairnie distillery. Created by industry veteran Ian Palmer, the $10 million project will employ a variety of unusual barley strains, a unique yeast and bespoke stills with Scotland's only double condens- ers to create what they suggest will be "a full-bodied and complex whisky with a slightly sweet edge, in contrast to the traditional 'Lowland' style." Palmer, who has almost 40 years' experience in the whisky industry, says: "InchDairnie is the culmination of a dream and everything I've learnt about whisky-making over the last four decades. I'm hugely respectful of whisky-making traditions, but at InchDairnie our vision is to use techni- cal expertise to capture and nurture all of the flavors from the whisky-making process." As I began with a mystery, here's another: Unfortunately, we will have to wait until 2029 before seeing InchDairnie's single malt! by Ian Buxton

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