Tough times lie ahead

Tough times lie ahead

The travel retail trade is facing unprecedentedly tough times due to the coronavirus outbreak, but new duty-free exclusive whiskies continue to be launched

Travel Retail | 24 Apr 2020 | Issue 167 | By Joe Bates

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So far, 2020 has already proven an ‘annus horribilis’ for the travel retail sector. The coronavirus outbreak, has completely crippled the aviation industry in a matter of weeks, leading to thousands of flights being cancelled and countless international trips being put on hold. Countries with particularly bad outbreaks such as China, Italy and South Korea have been hit hardest but this crisis is truly global in nature.
At the time of writing, international travel hasn’t stopped so if you are still en route, a browse of the duty-free shelves might come as a welcome distraction from all the gloomy headlines. I am pleased to say the duty-free whisky launches keep coming too – The Glenlivet has a rather tempting new travel exclusive out in the Taiwanese market, for instance.

The Glenlivet 14 Years Old Sherry Cask has been tailor-made to suit the typical Taiwanese whisky drinker’s palate, which tends towards sweeter, sherry-matured styles. The use of 100 per cent Oloroso sherry casks gives this new expression plenty of rich sherry notes. The nose delivers blackberries, blueberries and sultanas, while the palate offers milk chocolate, hazelnut and toffee flavours before giving way to a long, warming finish.

Priced at TWD1,750 (£38) per bottle, The Glenlivet 14 Years Old Sherry Cask is available exclusively at two of Taiwan Taoyuan international airport’s duty-free retailers: Ever Rich Duty Free and Tasa Meng.

With St. Patrick’s Day still fresh in the memory, it’s good to see the traditionally small Irish whiskey offer in many airport shops worldwide slowly improving as the number of brands available grows and distilleries put more focus on travel retail. For instance, Dubai Duty Free has recently launched a single-cask, single malt Lambay Irish whiskey, finished in an ex-Cognac cask at Dubai international airport.

Lambay Single Malt is a triple-distilled Irish single malt which has been matured in Bourbon casks and then finished in Cognac casks on a warehouse on Lambay Island, which is located in the Irish Sea two miles off the coast of County Dublin. The Cognac casks have been selected by Patrick Léger, the cellar master of family-owned Cognac house Camus.

Around 20 Cognac casks have been maturing in the aptly named Sea Cask Room on Lambay since the whiskey was launched by Camus in 2018. Camus believes sea-spray, iodine, brine and the island’s natural botanicals infuse the wood as the whiskey matures, lending the finished spirit a distinctive maritime quality. The 54% ABV Lambay Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey is limited to around 350 bottles and will be sold exclusively at Dubai Duty Free where it’ll be priced at around €140 (£122) for a 70cl bottle.

Back in Scotland, independent Scotch whisky bottler and blender Douglas Laing has launched the Remarkable Regional Malts Collection.

It’s a range of five beautifully packaged blended malts in 1-litre formats from five key Scotch whisky distilling regions with no chill filtering or added colouring, all bottled at a slightly higher 48% ABV than the domestic range.

The collection comprises The Epicurean, a blend of Lowland malts; the Highland blended malt Timorous Beastie, named after the mouse in Robert Burns’ famous Scots poem To a Mouse; the sherry cask matured Speyside blended malt Scallywag: Rock Island, a gently peated blend of Scottish island single malts, and finally Big Peat, a smoky blend of Islay single malts.

Many of these whiskies have won big at the various international whisky awards – Big Peat won a Gold medal at the New York International Wine and Spirits Competition last year, for instance, while Scallywag won a Double Gold at the recent San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

I feel sure the handsome new 1-litre Remarkable Regional Malts Collection will be a big success in duty free.


21 Years Old

In the 1970s Highland distillery was the largest distillery in the world, operating 23 stills and producing 12m litres of alcohol a year. In recent times, the distillery has been focusing on its single malt portfolio and has won over 60 awards at spirits competitions in the last 10 years.

This new travel retail exclusive 21 year-old expression joins a growing duty-free Tomatin range. It is matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and offers tropical fruit aromas on the nose, freshly baked croissant, apple and honey on the palate and a rich, buttery finish.

Bottled at 46% ABV, Tomatin 21 Years Old is priced at €175 (£153) for a 70cl bottle and is available at major international hub airports such as Sydney, Istanbul and Amsterdam.

Highland Park

Single Cask Bottling

Single-cask duty-free exclusives seem to be growing in popularity and this new release from Highland Park is sure to be a hit with travelling fans of Orkney’s most revered
single malt.

This new expression is a 12 year old single malt bottled at a powerful cask strength of 64.4% ABV and is deep russet in colour. Aged in a first-fill sherry puncheon, the whisky’s nose offers vanilla, almonds and gentle peat smoke, while lemon peel, more vanilla and sweet marzipan dominate the palate. The finish is sweet and lingering with more hints of lemon peel.

Only 642 bottles of this new Heathrow bottling of Highland Park are available at World Duty Free’s shops at the airport’s four terminals priced at £105 each.
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