Airside Tested

Jonny recommends some travel retail exclusives
By Jonny McCormick
Wherever you are flying, there are tempting havens of luxury shopping stocked with whisky as you step airside. No matter what the time of day, it's never too early to find yourself nodding affirmatively to a tartan-clad staff member enquiring if you'd like to try something. As you stroll around the store clasping your tiny plastic receptacle, you will realise that an age statement is one of the hardest things to spot on a bottle of whisky in an airport these days.

In a decade where aged stock is in short supply, erasing the age number from the bottles gives the distillers maximum flexibility with the whiskies in their portfolios. Airport shopping has become something of a testbed for these new conceptual whiskies. Fear not, there are still superb liquids to be had, but be discerning and try before you buy.


20 Year Old Double Cask


Bottler: Beam Global
Region: Islay
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £310
Auction: Whisky Online Auctions
Date: July 2013

Comment: This scarce Laphroaig was one of 750 bottles sold in Aelia's Buy Paris Duty Free shop, each bottle numbered and hand signed by John Campbell, Distillery Manager. Maturation was completed in two parts: 18 years in bourbon hogsheads then finished in their quarter casks for another two years. In 2010, it retailed at €225 a bottle.


Rare Collection 1982


Bottler: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £800
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions
Date: April 2014

Comment: Only 100 bottles of this rare Glenfiddich were released. The whisky was drawn from European oak sherry butts and bourbon barrels. It was sold airside exclusively at Hamburg Airport, bottled in collaboration with Gebr Heineman for their Duty Free Stores. The original price was €495 in 2011.

Highland Park



Bottler: Edrington Group
Region: Islands
WM tasting scores: 9.2 & 8.6 (Issue 88)
Recent auction price: £800
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: November 2013

Comment: When Highland Park released the 37 Year Old whisky it was packaged with the ornate bow of a Viking longship on the box, and formed the oldest bottling the Orcadian distillery had released for the travel retail market. At release, it cost £600 a bottle.


Edition: 06.2


Bottler: Rémy Cointreau
Region: Islay
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £300
Date: November 2013

Comment: The first ever global travel retail exclusive bottling of Octomore came in a generous release of 18,000 bottles. This heavily peated release from Bruichladdich was distilled from Scottish barley peated to a whopping 167ppm. Jim McEwan matured this Octomore in Limousin oak, and it carried an age statement of 5 years.