The Glenlivet Code – Preconceptions

My dearest to me at the drugstore. Aren’t you going to buy the Q-tips? Of course I will, look here. But these are not Q-Tips. I looked puzzled. They are not Q-Tips, they are generic cotton swabs, are they as good as the originals? I exhaled of dissatisfaction. Look, these are sticks with cotton on the end, I think my ear is not very discriminatory regarding the brand of things that I put in it.

It may seem like a silly discussion, but it is not. Branding a product directly influences how we perceive it. Nielsen, a company that specializes in studying consumer behavior, recently made a very interesting discovery. Six out of approximately ten consumers prefer to buy known brands products simply because they inspire confidence. It makes sense – most of the time we humans seek safety. This security, represented by something that is already familiar to us. We already know what to expect.

But it’s not just brands. When we know something, we create a concept around it. A concept we use as a basis of comparison for other things of the same nature. Before we experiment something new, we access this concept library and create a, well, pre-conception about it. For example, when someone tells me that some whisky has been amtured in ex-sherry, I will automatically imagine something fruity and spicy. Which is not true sometimes. But I think it is, because my brain is conditioned to always look for the same result, after having experienced a plethora of former-sherry-matured whiskies that had that flavour profile.

Aren’t we all lab rats, after all?

Knowing this, Glenlivet – one of Scotland’s three largest distilleries – decided to do a rather unorthodox experiment. The Glenlivet Code, which has recently arrived in Brazil.

It is a single malt that has no packaging information about its age, neither the barrels used in the maturation process. The only information is the alcohol content of 48%. The idea is that the consumer is not led to feel a certain aroma or flavor because he knows the composition of the barrels used in the expression. In other words, it invites consumers to taste, reflect, and produce their own tasting notes, without prejudice or preconceptions.

In the words of Alan Winchester, Glenlivet Master Distiller “With the Glenlivet Code, we had the unique opportunity to create a whisky that had never been created before, using new barrels and techniques to push the boundaries of what people expect from The Glenlivet. This year’s limited edition is a maze of flavors that will test your senses, and we are excited to invite consumers around the world to accept the challenge of decoding their mysteries. ”

To make the experience more interactive, Glenlivet has launched a hotsite. There, the connoisseur is invited to crack the code for that single malt. Or, in other words, compare their tasting notes test scores with Alan Winchester’s, through a a multiple-choice test. In the end, the site gives you a percentage of how many answers you got “right“.

The Glenlivet Code was released in March 2018, and is the third expression of a series of mysterious Glenlivet Malts. The first was Alpha in 2013, followed by Cipher in 2016. The idea of ​​these editions is excellent. They allow the savvy consumer to ask himself what he likes about the taste of a whisky, and how old and what that drink is. And, as a result, also reflect on what makes a good whisky. After all, is age important? The composition of the barrels?

A few months after launch – and before Code had a chance to land in our country – Glenlivet unveiled its full tasting notes, as well as barrel composition. However, to avoid spoilers, I will not explain them here. But I will simply say that its maturation process uses a very unusual kind of barrel. If you want to know, just go to the Glenlivet website.

As soon as I had the chance to put my paws in a bottle, I figured I would soon make the test. After all, I’m not the type to shy away from an ethylic challenge. However, before, I decided to taste it without worrying about the notes, to acclimate myself. And I was very impressed. It’s a whisky with extremely well-integrated alcohol, and a fruity and spicy flavor – no spoilers here – somewhat unusual for the Glenlivet. Whatever is in that matte black bottle is excellent, and deserves to be tasted with care.

I must say that I was both proud and frustrated with my test. The website makes you choose between different notes, but at certain stages I found myself divided: I felt two notes, and I should choose only one. Again, no spoilers here. Maybe my canine smell is not tuned. Or perhaps it is just that – to show that different people have different perceptions based on their olfactory memory.

Alan laughing at the result of my test.

In Brazil, a bottle of Glenlivet Code costs on average R $ 700,00 (seven hundred reais). It’s a price comparable to another favourite, the Glenlivet 18 – which suggests that there is a good deal of well-matured whiskies in the mysterious release. This impression is also reflected in the taste.

If you can’t stand a mystery, or if you’re passionate about Glenlivet malts, try the Glenlivet Code. By the way, try the Glenlivet code even if you don’t like the distillery. After all, the idea is precisely to abandon preconceived concepts.

Or, rather, not all flexible rods are the same.


Type: Single Malt (NAS)

Distillery: Glenlivet

Region: Speyside

ABV: 48%

Test results:



With water: ?

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