It's a rare honour for an airport duty-free store to be chosen as the world launch pad for a new whiskey, but that is exactly what has happened to Dublin and Cork airports. In April this year, Slane Whiskey went on sale exclusively at the airports' The Loop Travel Retail stores priced at €49 (£41.45) for those travelling inside the European Union, and just €31 (£26.30) for those flying to non-EU countries.
Slane Whiskey won't be available in the UK until May this year with the US and Australia following in July, so it was a real coup for the two Irish airports to get their hands on this triple-cask matured whiskey before anyone else. Since 2015, Slane Whiskey has been owned by Jack Daniel's parent company Brown-Forman, which bought it from the Conyngham family. The US drinks giant is building a new €44m (£37.3m) distillery in the historic grounds of Slane Castle, County Meath, the home of the Conyngham family since the 18th Century.
The new distillery won't open until this summer so this first batch of Slane Whiskey is made from whiskeys bought in from other Irish distilleries. Bottled at 40% ABV, this whiskey is a blend of grain and malt Irish whiskeys matured in virgin, seasoned and sherry oak casks. This triple maturation gives the finished whiskey a more robust and complex flavour profile than other Irish whiskeys, according to Brown-Forman, but retains the characteristic smoothness associated with whiskeys from Ireland.
If you are not travelling to or from Ireland anytime soon, but fancy picking up a new Irish whiskey, then why not plump for a bottle of the Travel Retail exclusive Bushmills Steamship Collection Sherry Cask, which is currently on sale at major German, Austrian and Scandinavian airports with shop owner Heinemann? Marking the 125th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the SS Bushmills, the Irish whiskey distillery's own steamship, this new sherry cask-matured whiskey is rich and full of nutty, dried fruit flavours. It's priced at €79 (£67) for a 1-litre bottle.
From Ireland, we move to arguably the most famous Speyside whisky of them all, The Glenlivet. It has just unveiled three single-cask expressions which are to be exclusive to duty free. The first of the new whiskies is The Glenlivet Fore Burn Single Cask, a 19 year-old fruity and slightly spicy whisky taken from a single sherry oak cask. The second release is The Glenlivet Watercairn Single Cask, which is 18 years old and sourced from American oak casks, giving it a sweet, oaky finish. The final expression in the range is The Glenlivet Tarland Single Cask which is bottled at cask strength. The new range is initially being targeted at major Asian hub airports such as Taiwan's Taoyuan international airport, Singapore Changi and Hong Kong airport where tastings, pop-up stores and gift-with-purchase offers have been laid on to support the launch. By their very nature, all three of these whiskies are of limited quantity so if you see a bottle, do not hesitate.
Finally, if your travels take you to either London Heathrow or Dubai airports in the near future, look out for the new and exclusive Chivas Regal 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill French Oak Finish. It follows on from the release of the First Fill American Oak Finish released back in 2015. To create the limited edition - the second in a series of three - the Chivas blending team selected first-fill French Limousin oak casks in which to finish Chivas Regal 18 Years Old. The result is a flavour profile which emphasises notes such as cinnamon, hazelnut and milk chocolate.
A third and final instalment in the Chivas Regal 18 Ultimate Cask Collection is in the pipeline and when details of it are released, we'll be sure to let you know when and where it is available.
40 Years Old
Established in 1806, Cambus was located a few miles from the city of Stirling and for most of its working life, produced grain whiskies for blends. A small proportion of its production was held back to be released as single-grain whiskies, which are now highly sought after by collectors as the distillery closed its doors in 1993. World Duty Free, which operates shops at most of the UK's main airports, including London Heathrow and Gatwick, has listed the oldest Cambus expression ever released by the distillery at £750 for a 70cl bottle. Cambus 40 Years Old was distilled in 1975 and is limited to 1,812 bottles worldwide. Cambus 40 Years Old is bottled at a natural cask strength of 52.7% ABV and was matured in refill American oak hogsheads. The complex nose offers up notes of ripe apple, tropical fruit and toffee, while the palate delivers salted caramel, dried fruit, ginger and a hint of smoke.
25 Years Old
Mannochmore is undoubtedly one of Speyside's less well-known distilleries and was only founded in 1971. This rare 25-year-old specimen is one of the 2016 Diageo Special Releases and has again been listed by World Duty Free for its UK airport stores. Bottled at a natural cask-strength of 53.4% ABV, Mannochmore 25 Years Old was distilled in 1990 and matured in a mix of first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, new American oak barrels, as well as new and ex-bodega European oak butts and is priced at £250 for a 70cl bottle. The nose is fruity with apple, orange peel and sweet grape vying for attention. The smooth palate imparts notes of vanilla toffee, cream, coffee and dried fruit along with some oaky dryness.