We recently had the opportunity to attend The Glenlivet Sonic Whisky Experience- Made in Italy Edition at Oro Whisky Bar (Rome) guided by Beppe Mancini, featuring four different tastings using particular and unusual tools like headphones, notebook and eye mask. An immersive and one-of-a-kind tasting experience that is meant to seduce amateurs approaching this world, allowing them to taste the organoleptic feature of the product with all the five senses.
The Glenlivet distillery was founded in 1824 by George Smith and it’s located near Ballindalloch in Moray (Scotland). It is the world’s second best selling single malt and current global seller of 6 million bottles total per year.
The “Parisian in Rome” experience
I have to be honest – the first time I tasted whisky I was 16 years old but I started to appreciate this distillate only recently and finally develop a real interest into it when I met Chiara Marinelli who properly introduced it to me. From that moment I trained myself to describe all the different flavors based on my emotions, smell and memory.
I was really pleased to share this intriguing and immersive experience with The Glenlivet and learned more about their range of whiskies but mostly to see how a brand communicate nowadays and reaches out for the consumer. It gives me a new perspective and keys on whisky.
So we’ve got ourselves sitting on the table, in front of us 4 glasses of whisky (The Glenlivet 12yo, The Glenlivet 15 yo, The Glenlivet 18 yo and the Glenlivet Nadurrà), along with a pair of headphones, an eye mask and a notebook – the unusual tools I was talking about earlier. As we closed our eyes, put on our headphones, wear the eye masks and took a sip of the whisky, we experienced how sound can bring out different flavors in single malt scotches.
The Sonic experience points out very well that the flavor is not determined only by what we smell with the nose or taste with the mouth but also with other sensory inputs.
Depending on which type of music I was listening to, I was able to catch a different shade of whisky’s texture. Which means that, for example, the same Glenlivet 18yo appear more “mineral” or “more spicy” based on the mood brought up by the music that was playling on my headset.
Through this very interesting experience we develope a whole new level of interaction between our senses and taste.
The “Ginger Side” Point of view
We all know how tasting is usually conduct. You have in front of you organized in a chronological order tasting glasses with a magical liquid already poured inside. Waiting for your nose to take a sniff and your mouth to take a sip. The eyes at that point have fulfilled almost their entire part of the tasting.
But what happens when your eyes are blindfolded, your ears are covered with headphones, and suddenly from a room filled with people, you are thrown back to where it is just you, and sounds. Where you don’t get to watch the impressions of others, but you get to be intimate with your Glenlivet.
Friday evening we got invited to the “Sonic Tasting” of The Glenlivet that took place at ORO WHISKY BAR. It has started like a classic tasting with a brief explanation of what is this spirit called Whisky. We’ve started with the Classic Glenlivet 12, smelled it, tasted it, talked about it, compared notes and personal associations of what we smell and taste. And then we moved to this black glass.
Here is the first experience >> VISUAL.
What happens when it is being taking away? How does it affect your smelling notes? How does it affect your tasting notes?
In the background was Beppe Mancini’s voice telling us to concentrate – Take time to smell and to figure out, take time to taste and to figure out. We then starts with our notes, which were obviously different from the notes we had on the Glenlivet 12. Imagine our surprise when Beppe told us “OK, now pour the rest of the whisky into the glass of the 12 as it is the same one“. And that was only the beginning.
Throw out this tasting, we’ve got to experience how different sounds can revile new lairs of smell and tase. How our skills of tasting, when all of our senses are free – can sometimes put boundaries on us, because we forget to go deep, and we rush into someone else’s answers as if it is more correct.
Every palate is different, your world of tastes and memories is of yourself, therefore you will most likely smell and taste different than others around you.
In the end…
A whisky tasting is a journey that involves the use of different senses, embraces them all and finally overwhelms them. I learned with time that there isn’t really a wrong way to drink whisky. No one have to feel embarrassed by not knowing how to do so. As well as we all have different perceptions and a different approach to taste, how we perceive aromas is guided by our own life experiences, our personal background. In this sense, it is normal that my personal experience with whisky will be different than anyone else’s.
We discover that different sounds can affect flavor and perceptions on the same whisky. Sláinte!
Link: The Glenlivet