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pick of the week

The Glenlivet Cipher, Scotland Add to ...

  • Rating 93
  • Price $199.90

Intriguing name, suggesting there’s a code to be broken. And that’s the company’s clever marketing conceit here. The packaging comes with zero information as to style – nothing about age or the nature of the wood maturation, for example. Has it been aged in former European sherry or American bourbon casks (or both)? Not a clue. So, we’re invited by the back label to visit the website, where we can click on various tasting terms, such as “apricot” and “honey” to come up with our own individual tallies compared with those of the master distiller, whose nose and tongue are of course better than ours (and who has the advantage of knowing precisely what he “should” be tasting).

Let’s stick to some undeniable generalities, then. This is potent stuff, bottled at 48-per-cent alcohol, with a luscious texture that comes across with flavours of toffee and brown butter (neither one listed on the website’s taste selections, I might add). There’s also a rich stewed-fruit character in the mix. But swiftly this whisky serves up an invigorating kick of spice and alcoholic heat, which balances all that richness in an impressive way. There’s a toasty, charred seam, too, though it’s well-measured, not overt.

I may not have cracked the code. But I’d be happy to crack open a full-size bottle after I get through my airplane-mini sample.

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Follow on Twitter: @Beppi_Crosariol

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