Travel Retail

Inchdairnie onboard

New British Airways whisky will take flight in 2031
By Joe Bates
The UK flag carrier is partnering with InchDairnie Distillery to create a new whisky to mark the airline’s centenary, but don’t expect it to be ready for a while.

Data breaches, IT meltdowns, strikes and the much-mourned loss of free onboard meals and drinks, the last few years has seen British Airways’ (BA) once envied public image take a severe bashing. As for the airline’s long-standing High Life shopping programme, I have also been critical of BA’s onboard spirits offer, which has played it safe with often quite frankly, boring middle-of-the-road-choices.

Yet I must give credit where credit’s due, BA has celebrated its centenary in 2019 in style by partnering with a range of British suppliers such as Edinburgh-based gin distiller Pickering’s, Kent winery Chapel Down and Scottish craft brewer BrewDog to create an assortment of genuinely appealing exclusive products. The airline also partnered with Fife-based craft whisky distillery InchDairnie to produce a commemorative dram, but it won’t be ready for passengers to buy until 2031.

The spirit is set to be matured for 12 years at InchDairnie in a hybrid cask type: an American oak ex-Bourbon cask with cask heads from a French oak cask that previously aged red wine. The use of American oak is a nod to the many transatlantic flights BA puts on every day, while the French oak cask is a tribute to the first flight operated by AT&T, the forerunner company of today’s BA, which first flew to Paris in 1919. The whisky, which is expected to run to 300 bottles, will be sold exclusively to BA customers in 2031.

InchDairnie has also created a Centenary Cask programme, which will be showcased at BA’s luxurious new First Lounge at New York’s JFK Terminal 7. Twelve casks are being offered exclusively to BA customers from May to September this year; each cask will have its own flavour profile and buyers will get the chance to see and taste how their spirit develops during the 12 years of its maturation.

If 12 years seems a long way off, you could always try buying a bottle from BA’s existing High Life selection, which has improved in recent times with the introduction of several GTR exclusives. Among them is Bowmore 18 Years Old (£79), which has been aged in both Oloroso and PX sherry casks to create a rich complex whisky, that mixes rich chocolate, peat smoke, dates, toffee and roasted coffee to wonderful effect.

Mortlach 14 Years Old (£60) is another good choice, aged in a mix of ex-sherry and Bourbon casks to form a spicy, fruity whisky that delivers plenty of vanilla and clove on the nose. The palate is fruity with red berry flavours and woody notes, while the finish is long and warm.

Back on the ground, The GlenDronach has released a new travel-retail exclusive to join the distillery’s first expression The GlenDronach Forgue Aged 10 years, which was released last September. The GlenDronach Boynsmill Aged 16 Years takes its name from The Boynsmill Estate where the distillery’s founder James Allardice decided to site his distillery back in 1826. This new whisky is aged in PX and Oloroso sherry casks, as well as port casks, and is bottled non-chill-filtered at 46% ABV without caramel.

On the nose, expect notes of stewed plums and apricot brandy along with sweet spices. The palate offers rich fruitcake cake and nutty flavours which give way to a rich, velvety finish. For lovers of sherried whiskies, The GlenDronach Boynsmill Aged 16 Years is a real treat and worth seeking out.

Lastly, Royal Salute has released a new quirky addition to its range: Royal Salute 21 Years Old The Lost Blend exclusively at Singapore Changi airport before a wider duty-free roll out in July this year.

As the name suggests, The Lost Blend has been created by Royal Salute master blender, Sandy Hyslop, using whisky from a ‘lost’ distillery at the heart of the blend, in this case, the Imperial Distillery, which produced whisky for 46 years before closing in the 1990s.

The new blend is the first peated whisky ever released by Royal Salute and it comes packaged in a stunning gift box created by award-winning illustrator Kristjana S. Williams, which on the inside features illustrations of the British Royal Menagerie, which was once housed in the Tower of London. Full of bonfire smoke, sweet orchard fruit and hazelnuts, this unusual Royal Salute expression is likely to become a sought-after collectors’ item and is priced from around $168 (£132).


BEST BUY
Hunter Laing & Co.

Scarabus

Scotch whisky distiller, blender and bottler Hunter Laing & Co., the family-run company behind Islay’s latest distillery Ardnahoe, has launched Scarabus, a new Islay single-malt whisky. The whisky’s unusual name means ‘Rocky Place’ while the attractive label has a folksy, Celtic feel, that was apparently inspired by the Islay-born author and scholar John Francis Campbell who invented the meteorological sunshine recorder and was a world-renowned authority on Celtic folklore and mythology.

The whisky itself has a traditional Islay style with peat smoke and sea salt on the nose while leather notes, rhubarb and vanilla sweetness dominate the palate. This handsomely packaged 46% ABV Islay malt will soon be available at selected duty-free and domestic stores.


RECOMMENDED
Jura

21 Years Old Time

At the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition in Singapore last month Whyte & Mackay unveiled a new travel-retail 21-years-old exclusive expression for the traveller.

In fact, Jura 21 Years Old Time is one of two new limited-edition 21 years-old whiskies released by the remote island distillery, the other being called Jura 21 Years Old Tide, which will be distributed to domestic rather than duty-free markets.

Jura Time is matured in American ex-Bourbon barrels and then finished in ex-peated malt whisky casks. The resulting whisky offers plenty of chocolate, honey and salted peat notes on the nose, while the complex palate delivers Turkish Delight, tropical fruit salad, maple syrup and dark chocolate flavours.