Travel Retail

Fun in the sun

Joe Bates finds out why the sun shines down on upbeat Cannes show
By Joe Bates
For once the heavens didn’t open and the annual TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes last month was bathed in autumnal French Riviera sunshine. The beautiful weather suited the upbeat mood in the exhibition venue, the labyrinthine Palais des Festival, which was noticeably busier than in the past couple of years when the duty-free business was feeling the full force of the global economic downturn.

Despite all the challenges 2010 has presented, which have of course included the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and continuing airport security restrictions on carrying liquids in hand luggage, the general consensus among exhibitors and visitors was that the trade was slowly getting back to somewhere near normal. There was certainly no shortage of new whisky launches to attend, as well as the appearance of some new faces such as independent Islay distillery Bruichladdich.

William Grant & Sons was certainly in celebratory mood, showing off the newly acquired Tullamore Dew on its stand for the first time, and revealing record travel-retail sales for 2010. However, the spotlight was firmly fixed on a repackaged Glenfiddich and a campaign to revamp the brand’s presence at key international airports.

There was also a quirky new travel-retail exclusive, the Glenfiddich Age of Discovery.

The whisky’s antique map packaging is inspired by the exploits of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and so company president Charles Gordon’s luxury racing yacht moored in Cannes Marina made a fitting location for a fun-filled launch party.

Meanwhile in a plush suite high up in the Majestic Hotel, one of the town’s grandest hotels, Jonathan Driver, Johnnie Walker’s global brand ambassador, gave journalists a tasting of Johnnie Walker Double Black, the new smoky version of Black Label.

It is going to remain a travel-retail exclusive until March.

I was also given a sneak preview of some of the new, ultra-rare The Dalmore whiskies. Its presence at top international airports has greatly increased thanks in large part to the release of incredibly rare and beautifully presented drams.

The prize for the most unusual whisky launch at Cannes has to go to a blended “world whiskey” called Orbis produced by UK company St. James Distillery. Priced at around £40.

This truly globe-trotting whiskey is made from aged malt and grain whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the US and Japan.


BEST BUY
Hammerhead

Vintage 1989

If you are looking to buy a unique whisky for your own collection or an unusual gift for a whisky-loving friend, why not consider picking up a bottle of this historic Czech single malt whisky?

Hammerhead Vintage 1989 has its origins in the dying days of Communist era Czechoslovakia. It was bottled at the state-owned Pradlo distillery on the eve of the famous Velvet Revolution. Made with 100% Czech ingredients and aged in Czech oak casks, this fantastically smooth and elegant whisky was then forgotten about for nearly two decades before the distillery’s new owner, Stock Spirits, unearthed it.

Hammerhead Vintage 1989 is now on sale at World of Whiskies’ UK airport stores priced at £34.99 for a 70cl bottle.


RECOMMENDED
Glenrothes

1991 Vintage

Glenrothes, the brand that pioneered vintage expressions, has unveiled a new travel-retail exclusive, 1991 Vintage.

Matured in both Spanish and American oak casks seasoned with either sherry or bourbon, the 1991 Vintage is gold in colour with notes of vanilla and white chocolate on the nose; vanilla and butterscotch on the palate and a long, sweet finish. Glenrothes 1991 Vintage will be hitting travel-retail from January priced at around €80 (£70) a bottle.