Mysterious The Glenlivet Alpha makes whisky history

7th May, 2013 by Becky Paskin

The Glenlivet is making whisky history by releasing a mysterious limited edition expression without an age statement, cask information or tasting notes in a completely opaque bottle.

The Glenlivet Alpha

The Glenlivet Alpha is the first whisky released without details of age, colour, cask or taste.

The Glenlivet Alpha is described as a “blank canvas”, a single malt designed to challenge consumers to develop their own perceptions of the whisky without being influenced by age, colour or cask.

Just 3,500 bottles of the 50% abv expression have been released to 15 global markets, including the US, UK, Taiwan and France, targeted predominantly at existing The Glenlivet fans and single malt Scotch enthusiasts.

A teaser campaign will run across social media and digital, aiding consumers to develop their own tasting notes and discover the elements that have formed Alpha.

Purchasers of the whisky will only have a month however until master distiller Alan Winchester reveals all on 3 June via a global broadcast to The Glenlivet fans on the brand’s website and Facebook page.

The only element that will never be revealed is the whisky’s age, which according to Scotch Whisky Association guidelines, can never be disclaimed as it’s not printed on the label. However Nikki Burgess, international brand director for The Glenlivet, revealed that Alpha contains “some very good whiskies”.

“We’d love to talk about the age and we know we have a good product there, but due to the SWA guidelines, because we haven’t got it on the bottle we can’t reveal it afterwards,” she explained.

She added that the new release is more an attempt to communicate the brand’s signature style with consumers, than simply a marketing initiative.

“We want to engage people and strike up a discussion about the product,” she said. “We know that single malt fans are really into The Glenlivet and are dying to know more, so this is a way of us being able to have more of a conversation rather than downloading messages. There are only 3,500 bottles worldwide so the objective isn’t a massive revenue gain either; it’s about building more of a relationship with people around the brand.”

Making a statement?

Burgess also denied the Chivas Brothers brand is wading into the age statement debate with The Glenlivet Alpha.

“We considered the age statement debate and whether to release a statement but in the spirit of the whole campaign, which is about people decoding it for themselves, it would have actually defeated the object of what we were trying to do,” she said.

“Age is important; it’s one of the key important factors in knowing what you’re choosing. A large amount of our products do have an age statement but not everything does because we don’t believe it’s only about that one factor. When it comes to creating a whisky, everything is important.

“When consumers come to choosing a whisky, age, colour and branding all plays a part, including where it sits on the shelf, whether they’ve heard of the brand before, the packaging, and the story on the back of the pack. The Glenlivet Alpha is a blank canvas; it’s not saying there is another way of judging how you should taste it, it’s giving you a complete blank canvas.”

The Glenlivet Alpha is available in global markets with an RRP of £95 (US$120).

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