There's a line that sums up what is undoubtedly one of the finest films in cinematic history. Simple, effective and descriptive, the line, 'there's none more black' characterises the degenerating relationship between the members of seminal (fictional) heavy metal band Spinal Tap. If you're not familiar with the line, or the film, we urge you to buy it immediately and have a peak at the video below.
Why are we telling you this? Well, frankly, there's a lot of crossover between the whisky and music businesses respectively, especially in the last 5 years. Both of us Caskstrengthers came from careers in music, both Island and Warner Brothers and it was amongst our responsibilities to develop release campaigns around the artists we'd signed and looked after- sometimes creating an aura of mystery, intrigue and excitement.
Consider the band My Chemical Romance. Not a band either of us worked with directly but great props to our friend and former colleague Danny Watson for engineering something truly inspiring at the time. On their breakthrough album, The Black Parade, a huddled horde of 30 shadowy figures, dressed in long black hooked cloaks prowled the streets of Hammersmith, carrying banners emblazoned with 'The Black Parade', bringing the roads to a standstill. Fans went crazy, local residents went crazy, the police probably went crazy, but the album, alongside its award winning TV campaign went on to sell truckloads in the UK. Another of Danny's standout ideas was utilising the restaurant Dans Le Noir, for an album launch. The restaurant is famous for being totally blacked out, wrong footing the diner's senses, but leading to a taste sensation as a result.
As you can see, there's a theme running here. The dark. Mystery. Uncovering the truth within.
Whisky companies are seemingly adopting the idea of looking at their whisky releases in the same way a record company marketing manager would when creating a promotional campaign for an album. This neatly brings us on to Alpha by The Glenlivet; a whisky which no one really knows anything substantial about, which has baffled the online community with its unconventional launch - seemingly parachuting in from no where, with little fanfare.
What can we tell you about it. Well, it comes in a fairly striking black bottle, with virtually no information on it, save for the legal requirements of ABV, bottle size and that it is a product of Scotland. As to the whisky inside... well, here in lies the intrigue.
Anyone who writes reviews of a whisky is rightly or wrongly guilty of informing a flavour profile in some capacity. Since we started this site back in 2008, we made a decision to never score whiskies, a system which is now much imitated - and rightly so. Rather like in an NME album review, readers tend to gravitate towards very high or indeed, very low scores. Anything in-between tends to fall into the 'grey' area. I remember one artist we worked with receiving a 6/10 for their album in the NME. We'd have preferred a 2/10, simply because poor reviews tend to be better written and, in many cases, actually inspire listeners to seek out the record for themselves.
According to the little press available, Alpha aims to offer a 'blank canvas' to the consumer allowing themselves to make a judgement on their own interpretation of the whiskies flavour and aroma profile. To this end, The Glenlivet will be unveiling a series of sensory videos as guidelines to help the consumer to discover their own interpretation of the whisky. A neat idea really.
So what does it actually taste like?
Well, here's the problem. Although an open bottle is sitting in front of us, it would be quite boring to simply review this in a conventional fashion and give the game away. So we've decided to have a little fun with you.
Glenlivet Alpha - 50%
01110110 01100001 01101110 01101001 01101100 01101100 01100001 00101100 00100000 01101001 01100011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110011 01110101 01100111 01100001 01110010 00101100 00100000 01110011 01101100 01101001 01100011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100001 01110000 01110000 01101100 01100101 01110011 00101100 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110101 01110100 00101100 00100000 01100110 01110010 01100101 01101110 01100011 01101000 00100000 01110000 01101111 01101100 01101001 01110011 01101000 00101100 00100000 01101100 01100101 01101101 01101111 01101110 00100000 01101101 01100101 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 01110101 01100101 00100000 01110000 01101001 01100101
Overall: Well. That's up to you to find out. Suffice to say, we thought it was a solid expression and very 'Glenlivet' in style. Over to you. Let us know your thoughts.
If you're having trouble working out our tasting notes, fret not. We urge you to try this whisky and make your own mind up. If you're still needing our tasting notes, somewhere on this page is a link to them. Have fun...