From Alpha to Enigma, The Glenlivet Mystery Editions have been category disruptive innovations driving excitement for the brand.
In a category, where traditionally tasting notes are given, The Glenlivet has turned it around and asked you to discover and identify the notes for yourselves.
Try something different, you might just discover your new favourite. Here at The Glenlivet we’ve never been afraid to mix things up.
Decode the tasting notes
Scan the QR code on the back of pack and join us on a digital journey through a spectrum of flavours to decode the tasting notes of The Glenlivet Spectra.
Some tips to tasting whisky by The Glenlivet
Here’s how to nose and taste like a pro. The Glenlivet created this guide to demystify the tasting process and help you get the most of the flavours and scents just waiting to be released in the dram that started it all.
First things first – take a look at your dram. You can tell a lot about the whisky in your glass from the way it looks because the colour of single malt whisky is heavily influenced by how it’s been matured. For example, our Nàdurra First Fill Selection expression is matured in first-fill American oak casks and is light in colour, with bright, lemony shades. At the other end of the spectrum, The Glenlivet 21 Year Old is matured in ex-sherry oak and has a rich, amber shade.
To judge the colour of the whisky, simply hold your glass up to a neutral background and look closely.
Once you’ve taken a good look at your whisky, it’s time to smell it. Nosing a whisky isn’t just for show – it’s vital to the tasting experience.
Your first inhalation will usually be a rush of alcohol, while your second will start to reveal the different characteristics of the whisky. As the bouquet opens, you’ll experience a full journey of aromas: fruity, floral, spicy, woody, creamy, sweet… Choose a tulip-shaped glass for nosing single malts. It both traps the aromas and releases them through the small area at the top.
Take a mouthful of whisky, hold it for a moment and then swallow it as slowly as you can. First, you’ll notice how it feels in your mouth – this is the “mouthfeel”. You’ll detect the liquid’s viscosity, pungency and smoothness. At this stage, whisky is often described using terms such as clean, crisp, rich, creamy or silky.
Pungency is apparent in very strong spirits that may sting your nose and tongue. Once you’ve tasted the whisky, you’ll discover new aromas in addition to the ones you identified when nosing.
At this point you’ll also detect the numerous flavours of the whisky. They may be generally categorised as nutty, sweet, spicy, fruity, or smoky, but more specific flavours will come through too, maybe some notes of honey, toffee apples, oranges, cinnamon, hazelnuts and raisins.
This is simply the length of time the flavour lingers in your mouth once you’ve swallowed the whisky. In older whiskies, this can last for a long time – hours, even. Depending on the expression, the finish might be described as warm, clean, sharp or dry. New flavours might also come through at this stage, perhaps vanilla, liquorice, chocolate or ginger.
Adding water to a dram can help to release scents, but everyone will respond differently to different amounts of water. There is a scientific reason for this: extra water reduces the solubility of some long-chain compounds, such as esters. Some drinkers may only require only a few drops, while others will need a healthy splash.
The effect of adding water is similar to when you walk in the countryside after a rain shower: it smells fragrant and you can smell the blossoms. Water mixes with the whisky and there’s a slight exothermic reaction. This reduces the alcohol strength, so rather than having the alcohol burning your nose, you get the fruity, floral flavours.