Fashion Invasion

Fashion Invasion

Joe Bate reports on how whiskey arrived in style at Belfast City

Travel Retail | 23 Jul 2010 | Issue 89 | By Joe Bates

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Named after the country’s iconic footballer, George Best Belfast City is the smaller of the Northern Irish capital’s two airports.

Flying to mainly United Kingdom and Irish destinations, this modest-sized, but fast-growing airport has recently undergone a £6 million revamp, opening a new selection of terminal shops, restaurants and bars this May.

At the centre of the action is a large 2,000 square-foot flagship store from World Duty Free (WDF), which boasts several luxury fashion brands never seen before at the airport, including Versace, Guerlain, Hermes and Cartier. And after having successfully applied for a liquor licence, WDF is able to sell spirits, wines and beers at the airport for the first time (although curiously, local regulations require the area to be gated off from the rest of the shop).

As you might expect, Irish whiskeys are very much at the forefront of the new shop’s spirits offer. Several references from local single malt brand, Bushmills make an appearance, including Bushmills 10 Years Old at £27.79, and for just a few pounds extra, Bushmills 16 Years Old at £30.59. Hailing from south of the border, the Republic’s best-selling whiskey by a country mile, Jameson, is also well represented. High-end offerings here include the sublimely smooth Rarest Vintage Reserve at £202, and Jameson 18 Years Old at £62.99.

Other recommended Irish whiskeys listed include Midleton Very Rare (£86.99) and the powerful yet smooth Jameson Red Breast, a real treat for Irish whiskey fans as it is one of the only pure pot still Irish whiskeys still made. It is priced attractively at £22.99 too. However, for a completely different side to Irish whiskey try the softly peated Connemara from Cooley Distillery at £21.99. One of Cooley’s other main brands, the very drinkable single malt Tyrconnell, is also stocked.

Scottish single malts haven’t been forgotten either — there is a good range of familiar brands with the majority of age statements in the 12-18 year old bracket. Brands listed include Bowmore, Glenlivet, Dalwhinnie, Royal Lochnager and Auchentoshan. If you are a bourbon fan, the best you will find is Maker’s Mark at £26.99, yet strangely for such a small airport, Japanese whisky does get a look in (Yamazaki 12 Years Old at £30.59).

The Balvenie

40 Years Old

This new ultra-premium release from The Balvenie was arguably the highest profile whisky launch at this May’s TFWA Asia/Pacific duty-free trade show in Singapore. With a recommended retail price of £2,500, Balvenie 40 Years Old is of course very much targeted at the collector’s market and the first batch of just 150 hand-numbered bottles is destined exclusively for duty-free.

The whiskies used for the new Balvenie date from the mid-1960s and were aged in mix of cask types. Blended by William Grants’ malt master David Stewart, Balvenie 40 Years Old is a naturally dark, rich whisky with a complex character. Given the hefty price tag, the packaging is suitably luxurious. The wooden presentation box is handmade by Scottish craftsmen.

Expect to find The Balvenie 40 Years Old at major international hub airports.

Elijah Craig

Single Barrel 18 Years Old

The two Le Clos fine wine and spirits stores at Dubai international’s vast new terminal 3, which opened for business last year, continue to offer a range of rare, collectible and quirky whiskies and bourbons.

Consider Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 Years Old, for instance, billed as the oldest single barrel bourbon available on the market. Priced in Le Clos at only $69 (£46.60) for a 70cl bottle, this is a steal for bourbon aged so unusually long. As many bourbon fans will testify, it is exceptionally rich and satisfying on the palate.
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