Only a few years ago Dewar's had a very low profile in duty free for a blend of its size. During the past three years, however, owner Bacardi has been aiming to grow Dewar's footprint with a rolling programme of quirky pop-up airport stores called the John Dewar & Sons Fine Whisky Emporium. They showcase not just the Dewar's brand family, but also Bacardi's five malts: Royal Brackla, Glen Deveron, Abefeldy, Aultmore and Craigellachie. Featuring vintage props and period details, this retro concept is based on the small wine and spirits shop company founder John Dewar opened on Perth High Street in 1846. Emporiums have now opened at major airports such as London Heathrow, Madrid and Beirut this year with Delhi, Mumbai, Amsterdam Schiphol, Rio and São Paolo to follow later. The latest Emporium to open is at Singapore Changi at the new DFS Terminal 2 Wines & Spirits Duplex store.
One of the highlights of the new Singapore Changi Emporium (and something I've never seen before in Travel Retail) are some illuminated vapour jars, which travellers can use to nose the key aromas of whiskies such as Dewar's 15 Years Old, Aberfeldy 18 Years Old and Royal Brackla 12 Years Old. These whiskies can also be sampled more traditionally at the airport's in-store tasting bar. For more details on prices and availability, visit Changi's excellent pre-order website: www.ishopchangi.com.
Duty-free displays and promotions are becoming more fun and interactive, which has to be a good thing. At Dublin Airport, for instance, travellers have recently been able to take a three-minute virtual reality (VR) tour of the Walsh Whiskey Distillery's 18th-century Royal Oak Estate in County Carlow. The distillery experience informs passengers about the distillery's production process and the three key styles of Irish whiskey produced there - pot still, malt and grain. The 'visit' finishes up with a complimentary tasting of two of the distillery's whiskeys: The Irishman and Writers' Tears. Writers' Tears is made from a combination of pot still and Irish malt whiskeys, which have been matured in American oak. Priced at €44 (£38.55) for those travelling inside the European Union, the nose offers up soft vanilla notes, while honey and spice dominate the palate. At €35 (£30.65), the award-winning The Irishman is a blend of single malt and single pot still and has a peppery nose counterbalanced with some fruity aromas. The taste is all about the pot still spice, rich dark chocolate, oaky notes and smooth crème caramel. The butterscotch finish is long and lasting.
Last up this time around, is the wonderfully named Copper Dog blended malt whisky, which has made its travel-retail debut at a long list of European airports that includes Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel and Vienna. Designed to be used in mixed drinks, the No Age Statement blended malt was the brainchild of London nightclub, bar and restaurant entrepreneur Piers Adam.
Adam purchased the famous The Craigellachie Hotel in the heart of Speyside in 2013. He thought the hotel's pub The Copper Dog, once a popular hangout for local distillery workers, deserved its own whisky. The name 'Copper Dog' derives from the stoppered copper tube distillery workers once used secretly to smuggle a dram home.
As for the juice itself, Copper Dog has a fruity, toffee-oriented nose and palate. Ripe orchard fruits of apple and pear mingle with gentle wood, creamy toffee and subtle vanilla to create a smooth, easy-drinking whisky. In Travel Retail. Copper Dog is priced at €36.40 (£31.90) for a 1-litre bottle.
33 Years Old
This new 33 Years Old expression from the quirky Speyside distillery, known as a producer of robust whiskies, comes hot on the heels of the limited-edition Craigellachie 31 Years Old. This older dram has been released in limited quantities at selected European and Asia Pacific airport stores. John Dewar & Sons malts master and master blender Stephanie Macleod describes the whisky as a "muscular Speyside malt that meets rare sherry finesse, with explosive sulphory aromas, cereal complexity and exotic fruits to result in a long creamy finish." It is non-chill filtered, bottled at 46% ABV and priced at £2,000 per bottle.
21 Years Old Polo Edition
Royal Salute has been a sponsor of polo tournaments in countries like Argentina, India, Spain, UK, China, and the USA for a decade, so this new polo-inspired release should come as no surprise. It was Sylvester Stallone who memorably said playing polo was "like trying to play golf during an earthquake" and you get an idea of the skill needed to play the sport from the neat illustration of a player in mid-swing on the green flagon and cream gift box. Royal Salute's director of blending Sandy Hyslop has created a lighter, more delicate blend for this new expression which is ideal for enjoying outside on a summer's day. Notes of honeydew melon, berry jam and creamy toffee all combine to create a fragrant, fruity blend with a long, complex finish. Royal Salute 21 Years Old Polo Edition is exclusive to DFS Group's Singapore Changi Airport stores until September when the new whisky will get a global release.