If the squidgy, colourful capsules are an attempt to break away from the staid, old-boys club image of Scotch whisky, then Glenlivet's 'capsule collection' is a job well done.

The 23ml edible pouches are made from seaweed and contain a range of whiskey cocktails.

However, looking at the capsules, it's not clear if they are supposed to be eaten or put in a dishwasher.

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The contents was mixed by the Tayēr + Elementary bar in east London who were tasked with devising three single malt cocktails for the project that evoke traditional whisky flavours of "citrus, wood and spice".

Yet the flavours might be the one thing recognisable as whisky for anyone encountering them. For many the capsules 'evoke' something else entirely:

The resemblance to 'tide pods' – small gel detergent capsules – is uncanny.

Last year they gained notoriety when YouTube was forced to remove thousands of videos encouraging children to the poisonous cleaning agent as part of the "tidepod challenge".

"I saw Tide Pods trending and feared someone had poisoned themselves," wrote one twitter user.

"Is this the death of the whisky tumbler?" leads the capsule collection's product release.

While the provocative statement by Pernod Richard was supposedly rhetorical, the internet has responded, loudly.

"Surely this is a sick joke," tweeted news anchor Julia MacFarlane to Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish first minister is yet to comment.


Notpla the sustainable packaging start-up welcomed the chance to work on the project. The little seaweed blisters are a biodegradable alternative to plastics or glass, and a praiseworthy if inelegant solution.

"As a brand that celebrates originality, we are always looking to break the conventions that have determined how single malt Scotch has historically been enjoyed" Miriam Eceolaza, director of Glenlivet.

Travellers arrived from Scotland and as far afield as the US to try the pods at their first public tasting last week. Describing the surprising "burst" of flavour and an unusual, but not unpleaseant, "aftertaste" from the seaweed packaging.

It's unlikely that the 'capsule collection' will appear on shelves of duty free, but more likely be the focus of food and drink experiences – a growing area both for whisky distilleries and tourism.

Last year the value of the Whisky industry was given at $10.1 billion to the UK economy, with distillery visitor numbers doubling over the last decade to 2,004,745.

On the busy Scottish Whisky Trail offers everything from spirit safaris to helicopter malt island hops – and the distilleries are always looking for a point of difference.