On a cold Friday morning, the first aircraft to fly from Dublin airport (or Collinstown airport as it was known then) took off from grass runway en route to nearby Liverpool on 19 January 1940. The original terminal building was designed to handle just 100,000 passengers. Wind the clock forward today and Dublin airport is now a busy two-terminal hub handling nearly 30 million travellers each year, offering more than 180 destinations in 42 countries worldwide.
Irish whiskey has always been the most popular duty-free spirit purchase in the airport’s duty-free stores and to celebrate the opening of a new set of shops at Terminal 2 The Teeling Whiskey Company has released a commemorative bottling referencing the airport’s old name: ‘The Irish Whiskey Collection’, The Collinstown Collection, priced at €80 (£71.75) (duty-paid) and €65 (£58.30) (duty-free). Master blender, Alex Chasko has created an intriguing new 12 year old whiskey made from blended grain and malt whiskeys that have been married in ex-Loupiac wine casks.
According to Teeling, this is the first time that an Irish whiskey has been finished in this type of sweet French wine cask, resulting in a fruity flavour profile with a long, well-balanced finish. Like many of The Teeling Whiskey Company’s whiskeys, this new expression is bottled at 46% ABV with no chill filtration. ‘The Irish Whiskey Collection’, The Collinstown Collection is limited to just 6,000 bottles and can be bought at Aer Rianta International’s The Loop stores at Dublin and Cork airports, as well as pre-ordered online at www.theloop.ie.
From Ireland, we hop over the Pond to the US where a whiskey I first tasted last year at the TFWA World Exhibition has now finally arrived at selected airports worldwide: the new 100 proof (50% ABV) Jack Daniel’s Bottled in Bond. This new global travel-retail exclusive addition to the Jack Daniel’s has been released to celebrate the passing of the Bottled in Bond Act by the US Congress in 1897, which significantly raised the quality bar for whiskey at the time. It required American whiskeys to be aged a minimum of four years and be bottled at 100 proof in one distillery during a single season.
Jack Daniel’s Bottled in Bond meets all those original stipulations. Rich and bold, this new whiskey carries a lot of the distillery’s characteristic banana flavours, as well as caramel, vanilla and toasted oak flavours. It has a full-bodied mouthfeel and delivers a creamy, warm finish. Expect to pay around $37.99 (£34) in duty-free for a 1-litre bottle.
Finally, our whistle-stop tour of the latest duty-free releases stops off at windswept Orkney where Highland Park has unveiled a new global travel retail exclusive range inspired by revered animals in Viking culture. The first thing to note about new four-strong collection is that they feature the welcome return of age statements; the second thing is the beautifully embossed bottles which wouldn’t look out of place on a Game of Thrones set, but actually depict the Viking legend of a Lion fighting the forces of evil.
The 1-litre entry-level Highland Park Spirit of the Bear (40% ABV) is primarily matured in sherry-seasoned American oak casks and is aromatically smoky in character with accompanying notes of fresh root ginger, freshly grated nutmeg and sweet vanilla. The second expression in the range is the 1-litre Highland Park 14 Years Old Loyalty of the Wolf, which is matured in ex-sherry and ex-Bourbon casks at a higher 42.3% ABV. Sweet and complex on the nose and palate, this whisky offers sponge cake and baked apple flavours alongside light peat smoke.
The 70cl 16 Years Old Wings of the Eagle variant is matured in both sherry-seasoned European and American oak casks at 44.5% ABV in strength. Sweet figs, apricots, dark chocolate and marzipan can all be detected in this spicy and elegant whisky. The pinnacle of the new Highland Pak range is the 18 Year Old Viking Pride Travel Edition, which gives travellers the chance to try the award-winning 18 Years Old expression at its marrying strength of 46% ABV. It features a darker colour and fuller flavour with heather honey, dark chocolate and peat coming through strongly.
The new Highland Park travel retail range should already be available in major European, Middle Eastern and Asian airports and will arrive in the Americas from December this year. BEST BUY
The Cotswolds Distillery Single malt whisky
I’ve long championed for regional airports to support their local whisky producers and I’m pleased to see craft distilleries like The Cotswolds Distillery are now getting a foothold in the travel retail business.
World Duty Free’s Birmingham airport store has now listed The Cotswolds Single Malt whisky priced at £39.29 per bottle. It is made from locally grown barley, distilled twice in copper pot stills and then aged in a mix of ex-bourbon and reconditioned red wine casks.
On the nose, you can detect stone fruits, honey and butterscotch, while the palate offers brown sugar, sweet spice and marmalade flavours. The finish is long with a hint of treacle.RECOMMENDED
Pearse Lyons5 Years Old, Cask strength
This exciting new release from the new Pearse Lyons Distillery in the heart of Dublin’s whiskey district is surely one for travelling Irish whiskey fans to track down if they are passing through either Dublin or Cork airports later this year.
Pearse Lyons 5 Year Old Single Malt Cask Strength was distilled in 2012 in two small-batch copper pot stills which were carefully transported from Kentucky to Ireland and installed in Dublin’s refurbished St. James Church, the site of the Pearse Lyons Distillery.
Head distiller Gearoid Cahill has used Irish malted barley and a special yeast strain to create a fruity, spicy whiskey with no additional colourings. Around 1,000 individually numbered bottles of this beautifully packaged whiskey are available at The Loop duty-free stores priced at €120 (£107.60) for a 70cl bottle if you are travelling inside the European Union.
Highland Park range
Cotswolds Inaugural Release
Pearse, 5 Years Old