Scottish whisky manufacturer, Glenlivet, made quite a stir when they unveiled their Capsule Collection at the Tayer + Elementary bar during London Cocktail Week 2019. These edible seaweed capsules pack a typical half-shot of alcohol, which provides instant whisky enjoyment without ice or glass. These pods came to life in cooperation with sustainable packaging company Nootka, and it comes in three flavours: citrus, wood, and spice.
What to Expect
Upon tasting a pod for the first time, you may not know what to expect. The three flavours are unique and familiar all at once. The citrus option combines grapefruit, bergamot, peppery almond, and Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Meanwhile, the wood flavour is a fusion of the Founder’s Reserve, cedar, sandalwood, and oloroso. Finally, the spice whisky pod blends the same Glenlivet drink with bitter dark walnut, leather, vetiver, and tobacco. You will only have to bite into the pod to enjoy the flavour and receive a quick dose of whisky.
The Whisky Pod’s Reception
Though Glenlivet claims that these capsules redefine whisky enjoyment, it receives much criticism from traditional whisky enthusiasts. These connoisseurs can’t help but compare the capsules to Tide Pods that caused danger to approximately 500 Americans across all age groups. However, Tayer + Elementary founder Alex Kratena is aware of those comments and responds that the similarities are coincidental. Likewise, Glenlivet shared in their Twitter account that their pods are safe to eat and provides an immediate burst of flavours once consumed.
Even if a world-renowned industry figure like Kratena supports Glenlivet’s latest product, those who are in the business of producing the best whisky are crying foul over this product for several reasons. It can force distilleries to reduce their prices to compete with the whisky pods and make the young ones curious about consuming multiple capsules.
Backlash from Traditionalists
The biggest issue that whisky power players raise, however, is that Glenlivet’s innovative product dilutes the sensory aspect of tasting and assessing the blends. Traditionalists claim that the joy in whisky tasting is in the identification of the tastes and aromas that makes a mix commendable. Savouring the aroma through their nose and sipping a shot is part of the process that made experts spot a must-try blend and distilleries to find the best ingredients in hopes of pleasing the aficionados.
For those who have been invested in this business for decades, the pods dumb down the alcoholic beverage into a sugary snack that is in danger of inappropriate consumption, which can lead to altered judgment and behaviour. It diminishes the elegance of the bottled variants if anyone can bite a capsule to get a sudden rush of whisky. Because of this move by Tayer and Glenlivet, they have received much criticism online. More criticism was seen and heard when Glenlivet announced that the capsules were only available during Cocktail Week and will not be for sale elsewhere. (Thank goodness)
Through the Whisky Pods, Glenlivet tried to solve a non-existent problem, thinking it was a step towards the future. However, this won’t be the last time when a distillery will try to offer whisky through an unconventional method. When that happens, will the industry maintain the status quo? Will they go outside the box and succumb to innovation? What are your thoughts on this divisive whisky innovation?