Travel Retail

The Year of the Pig

The airport stores are welcoming in the new year
By Joe Bates
If any of you dear readers were born in 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 or 1995, then you are in Chinese astrological terms pigs, which means among other things that your lucky colour is yellow, and you’re likely to be warm-hearted, loyal, honest and gentle. 2019 is also the Year of the Pig and whisky companies have not been shy in introducing Chinese New Year editions into airport stores around the world.

For instance, Johnnie Walker has released a superbly detailed Johnnie Walker Blue Label Chinese New Year Limited Edition 1-litre bottle, which is on sale for around £196. This year’s design has been created by English artist Chrissy Lau who has Chinese heritage. Featuring a delicately drawn blue big, Chinese lanterns and exploding fireworks, the design is extremely eye-catching.

Royal Salute has also released a new Chinese New Year bottle and gift box. The classic sapphire Royal Salute flagon comes in a deep red gift box featuring accents of azure in an intricate pattern print. The Royal Salute Special Edition Chinese New Year Festive Pack was launched at the beginning of 2019 across Asian airports priced at about $135 (£104.50).

Dewar’s has been keen to develop its Asian business for several years and it too has released a Chinese New Year gift tin this year for the 18 Years Old expression in the range, which has a honeyed, floral taste profile. The tin features a traditional red and gold design and is priced at about $99 (£76.65) for a 1-litre bottle. The Dewar’s 18 Years Old Chinese New Year Gift Tin is available at 15 major Asian airport stores.

These Chinese New Year bottles and gift tins are certainly colourful and I trust they will appeal to Chinese travellers, but at the same time I hope that in future years, we can see some exclusive liquids going inside these bottles too. On the domestic market, that’s exactly what the likes of independent Scotch bottler Douglas Laing has done with three new single-malt cask bottlings, so I can’t see why something similar can’t be offered to travellers too.

From China, we fly over to South Africa and the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, which is located close to Cape Town. The distillery has just launched the oldest single grain whisky from South Africa to date as a new limited-edition travel-retail exclusive. Bain’s 15 Years Old Single Grain Whisky spent the first five years of its maturation in ex-Bourbon casks and was then re-vatted into third and fourth-fill American oak casks.

At this point, master distiller Andy Watts chose to bottle the whisky at a cask strength of 52.5% ABV. The result is a complex, dark-amber-coloured whisky with tropical fruit and teak aromas on the nose, sweet butterscotch, raisins and banana loaf flavours on the palate and a warm, spicy finish. As you might expect, stocks of this whisky, which is on sale at major South African airports, are limited. It’s priced at ZAR950 (£53.50).

Finally, I just wanted to let readers know about a new blended whisky called The Woodsman produced by Whyte & Mackay, which is due to launch in World Duty Free’s UK airports in the second quarter of 2019 priced at around £32.99. It was first launched in the UK domestic market last year and is designed to be mixed in cocktails or with simple mixers. It’s matured in freshly built, virgin oak casks from Ohio, which gives the 40% ABV whisky a good hit of vanilla and spice, as well as ex-Bourbon barrels, which are doubled-charred in Scotland to add a touch of smoke to the flavour profile.

The Woodsman launches into a mature and competitive blended category, but its quirky production story and its bold, yet balanced flavour, might make it worth picking up a bottle on your next trip, especially if you are a cocktail lover.

Best Buy
Penderyn
Faraday

This new 46% ABV release from Penderyn is named after the Welsh distillery’s chemical engineer Dr. David Faraday, a direct descent of the famous 19th century British scientist Michael Faraday. Dr. Faraday helped design the distillery’s distinctive still, which produces single-malt whisky at the very high-strength of 92% ABV.

Penderyn Faraday is matured first in ex-Bourbon casks and then finished in ex-ruby port casks. The whisky’s light, perfumed nose is fruity with a hint of vanilla, while the palate is creamy with dried fruit, floral honey and woody spice. The finish is medium length and slightly nutty.

Available in a 70cl bottle format at around £60, the new Penderyn Faraday is available at the duty-free shops at Bristol and Cardiff airports.

Recommended
Gold Bar Whiskey
Blended American whiskey

Gold Bar Whiskey was one of the more eye-catching spirit launches at the Summit of the Americas duty-free show in Orlando.

The gold-bar packaging is the standout feature of this new release along with a brass Lady of Fortune coin designed by famous American designer Steven Noble, which is pressed into the glass bottle.

The blended American whiskey comes from three US distilleries and is then finished in ex-Californian whiskey barrels.

The resulting whiskey is smooth with notes of red fruit and honey and recently won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Gold Bar Whiskey is currently available at major US airports such as New York JFK, San Francisco and LAX, as well as on several US cruise lines.