This huge airport’s growing reputation as a superb place to buy luxury wines and spirits is largely down to one company: Le Clos. Owned by one of the Gulf’s biggest alcohol distributors (MMI), Le Clos opened two small stores in Terminal 3 back in 2008. These two outlets quickly won praise for their excellent range and customer service from industry critics and the wider travelling public alike.
Le Clos has now cut the ribbon on a much larger flagship shop in Concourse A, a new part of Terminal 3 dedicated to passengers flying on the A380 superjumbo. The new store certainly looks impressive; the entrance has been created from a six-metre tall whisky still. A massive wine wall dominates the shop interior, while interactive multimedia displays, a tasting area and a bottle-engraving service also jockey for attention.
As for the whisky offer, it certainly puts new meaning into the phrase ‘high-end’. For instance, it showcases some very rare The Macallan expressions, which were purchased from a private collection last year. They include the 1981 Royal Wedding bottling (AED28,000/£5,067), the Silver Jubilee Magnum (AED65,000/£11,765) and a 50 Years Old 1928 vintage (AED125,000/£22,625). In total, the new store stocks more than 60 Macallan expressions including 20 individual vintages from the Fine & Rare Collection, ranging from a 1940 vintage (AED54,000/£9,775) up to one from 1989 (AED12,000/£2,170).
Further down the price ladder there is an excellent selection of other single-malt brands, including many travel-retail exclusives such as the wonderfully sweet, perfumed The Glenrothes 25 Years Old (AED950/£172), and expressions from silent distilleries such Glenlochy 1980 (AED1,176/£213) and a 1997 bottling from the long gone Lowland distillery of Inverleven (AED 1,250/£226). There’s also a decent sprinkling of bourbons such as Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Booker’s, Parker’s Heritage and Wild Turkey, and Japanese whisky also gets a deserved look-in (Hibiki, Yamazaki).
Le Clos’ website (www.leclos.net) has a full run down of the whiskies on sale plus details of competitions and special offers. The retailer also offers a convenient online pre-order pick-up service for those passengers either wanting to collect on their arrival at (or departure from) the airport.
Never try and blend in with the locals in a Kirkwall pub by crying ‘slainté’ as you down a dram. It turns out ‘skol’ is the more acceptable term in those northerly windswept parts. they are extremely proud of their Scandinavian heritage and Highland Park has chosen to honour six famous Vikings with links to Orkney in its new series. For now just three of the six new whiskies are available in European travel-retail: the entry-level Svein, Einar and Harald. Named after Harald Fairhair, the first King of Norway, it is the pick of the trio for me. It neatly encapsulates what makes Highland Park such a treat, being balanced between spicy sweetness and gently heathery peatiness. you’ll find it at major European airports priced at €75 (£65) for a 70cl bottle.
That most well crafted of scotch whiskies The Balvenie has a new exclusive offering for travellers: The Balvenie Tun 1401. Batch number seven in this series tun 1401 has been blended from nine American oak casks and two European sherry butts and then left to rest for several months in ‘Tun 1401’ before bottling at 49.2% ABV. The nose is described as “rich, deep and floral”, while the taste is sweet with cinnamon, honey and vanilla. the long finish mixes honey, citrus and vanilla notes. Available in global travel-retail from march The Balvenie Tun 1401 has a recommended retail price of £175.