Travel Retail

It's All in the Numbers

Where to find that elusive blend and single malt
By Joe Bates
Can you ever recall seeing a 13 year old whisky? I must confess I haven't but given that 'triskaidekaphobia', fear of the number 13, still holds sway in the West, that's probably not that surprising. In China, however, it's the number four that gives locals the heebie jeebies whereas the number eight is considered super-lucky and worth shelling out to have as part of your telephone number or on your licence plate.

The number eight certainly appears in abundance on a new ultra-deluxe range of Johnnie Walker whiskies, which have just been released exclusively into Asian duty-free stores. The John Walker & Son Private Collection by Master Blender Jim Beveridge comprises 8,888 decanters of the 2014 Edition, which is a 46.8% ABV blend taken from 29 of Beveridge's private reserve casks, as well as tailor-made blends and experimental casks.

The resulting whisky is rich and complex and described as showcasing all the trademark smokiness of Johnnie Walker.

It was first unveiled at Singapore Changi airport in May priced at $925 (£440). To mark the launch Beveridge signed 10 bottles with lucky numbers: 1888, 2888, 3333, 4888, 5555, 5888, 6666, 6888 and 7888.

The Johnnie Walker & Sons Private Collection 2014 Edition is now available at other leading Asian airports. Further, small-batch Johnnie Walker & Son Private Collection releases are promised annually in the coming years.

Back in Europe Bacardi has been busy introducing a new-look Aberfeldy range to travellers through a high profile promotion at London Heathrow airport with World of Whiskies. Long known as the signature malt in the Dewar's blend, Aberfeldy has been available as a single-malt for several years, but now comes in a handsome new bottle and a permanent new exclusive expression has been developed for travel-retail stores.

The exclusive £77.99 Aberfeldy 18 Year Old sits midway in the range between the entry-level 12 Year Old and the award winning 21 Year Old. Displaying the distillery's famous honeyed character, this well-balanced dram offers plenty of citrus and spice along with some tempering woody notes.

World of Whiskies is offering Aberfeldy 18 Year Old along with a small bottle of still water collected from Aberfeldy's ancient water source of the Pitilie Burn, a fresh water stream which runs alongside the distillery.

The bottle of water features the same black label and gold lettering as the whisky and together they would make a great gift for a whisky lover.

Note that the entire Aberfeldy range will be become more widely available at other major airport shops later in the year.


BEST BUY
The Glenlivet

Kymah

You'll have to be travelling to Frankfurt airport to buy a bottle of this new single cask edition of The Glenlivet, which takes its name from the Kymah Burn, a tribute of the Spey river, whose source in the Ladder Hills lies close to the distillery. Hand-picked by the owner of the duty-free store at the airport, this newly released, non chill-filtered whisky has been aged for 16 years in a single ex-sherry butt and bottled at a powerful 60.1% ABV. The nose of this rare whisky offers up juicy, moist raisins and warming ginger notes while dark chocolate, orange marmalade and toffee flavours mingle on the palate. Quantities of this whisky, which comes in a 70cl bottle and is priced at €249 (£200) each, are limited to 528 bottles.


RECOMMENDED
Highland Park

Ragnvald

The now six-strong Highland Park Warrior Series is one of the better non age statement (NAS) travel-retail exclusive malt whisky ranges out there. To my mind too many of this new crop of NAS exclusives betray their lack of relative maturity by displaying too many rough edges and undeveloped flavours. Not so the wonderful Highland Park Ragnvald, named after a twelfth century earl of Orkney and priced at about €400 (£325), which is bottled at 44.6% ABV and russet coloured. On the nose this whisky is full of woody notes of cedar wood, bonfire smoke and camphor; the palate is complex with ginger and smoked oak while the finish lingers in a pleasing fashion.