Flying to Frankfurt?

Flying to Frankfurt?

Joe Bates heads out to Germany's largest place of work to check out the whisky selection
Joe Bates

16 January 2009

Publication: Issue 77

Frankfurt airport likes to call itself an ‘Airport City’ and it’s not hard to see why. It is not only Europe’s third largest airport with 52m passengers a year, flying to 307 destinations in 109 countries worldwide, it is also Germany’s largest single place of work, employing an astonishing 70,000 people.That’s more then German car giant Volkswagon.

The airport is vast, covering 20m square metres, which is spread out across two terminals, which are sub-divided into concourses.

For ease of use, navigability and friendliness of staff Frankfurt gets mixed reviews from travellers, but thankfully the retail offer is widely considered top notch.

The numerous duty-free and Travel Value stores are all operated by Gebr Heinemann.

They boast a decent range of whiskies. In recent years the retailer has made a point of stocking older and rarer malts such as Highland Park 40 Years Old at €1,150 (£950), and Highland Park 30 Years Old at €205 (£170), which are both currently in stock.

There are plenty of more affordable malts to choose from too, including travel-retail exclusives such as Glengoyne Burnfoot (€33.50/£27.65),The Macallan Elegancia 12 Years Old (€44/£36.30) and Smokehead Extra Rare (€43/£35.50).

The range of blended Scotch whiskies is extensive too with plenty of top-end products to choose from such as Chivas Regal 25 Years Old at €219 (£180.70), Ballantine’s 30 Years Old at €260 (£214.50) and Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V at €395 (£326).

My pick of the cheaper blends is the new travel-retail exclusive from The Famous Grouse, The Famous Grouse Spanish Oak, which is priced at €15.90 (£13.10) for a 50cl bottle.

The Macallan

1824 Limited Edition Release

Few malt whisky brands have as fanatical a fan base as The Macallan.

Loyal followers of this great whisky now have a completely new duty-free range after the release of no fewer than four new exclusives:The Macallan Select Oak,The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition,The Macallan Estate Reserve, and my pick,The Macallan 1824 Limited Edition Release.

The likes of Jim Murray and Paul Pacult have raved about this new whisky, which is unsurprisingly in short supply (only 1,824 decanters have been released).

Matured solely in Spanish sherry oak casks,The Macallan 1824 Limited Edition Release has a dark amber colour and a nose redolent of burnished wood and dried fruit.

Exotic spices, cardamom and ginger vie for your attention on the palate, while the finish is long and very slightly dry.
Priced at about £1,212, expect to find The Macallan 1824 Limited Edition Release at major international airports worldwide.


‘Darach Ur’

The avalanche of duty-free exclusive releases shows no sign of stopping.The latest company to get in on the act is Burn Stewart Distillers, which has just unveiled Bunnahabhain Darach Ur, which means ‘new oak’ in Scots Gaelic. It is the first duty-free exclusive from the Islay brand.

I am glad to say the whisky is more than just a repackaging exercise, which is all some so-called exclusives amount to. Interestingly, Darach Ur has been matured in new oak barrels made in a small, family-run Kentucky cooperage for up to 20 years. As you might expect, the finished whisky, which is non chill-filtered and bottled at a powerful 46.3% ABV, has plenty of sweetness from the oak on the palate, along with nutty toffee. Sweet oak is also apparent on the nose along with heather blossom and pine notes.

Bunnahabhain Darach Ur is priced at about £40 for a 1-litre bottle. Available initially at World Duty Free’s shops, travellers should also see distribution spreading to other major international airports in the coming months.

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