For the past few years, Johnnie Walker House stores have been popping up at major international airports all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. These high-end retail spaces at hubs such as Taiwan’s Taoyuan, India’s Mumbai and The Netherlands’ Schiphol airports combine elements of an interactive museum, a tasting bar and a luxury retail store into a concept Johnnie Walker owner Diageo has called an ‘embassy for luxury whisky’.
The Americas were the only region not to boast a Johnnie Walker House, but that omission has now been rectified with the opening last December of an outlet at Miami international airport’s North Terminal (on Concourse D, near Gate D14 to be precise). The new shop (a Johnnie Walker Store rather than a Johnnie Walker House) stocks an exclusive limited-edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle created by local Miami illustrator Ernesto Maranje. His bottle design gives the whisky’s famous Striding Man a suitably relaxed jazzy coat, as well as plenty of local touches like dolphins and palm trees.
On sale from March this year, just 500 bottles of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Miami Edition have been released so this collector’s item won’t be around for long, I suspect. Among the many other Johnnie Walker whiskies stocked at the new store are the full Johnnie Walker colour range; the limited-edition Johnnie Walker Select Cask Series; the travel-retail exclusive Johnnie Walker Spice Road, a smoky blend full of woody spice; and the exceptional Johnnie Walker XR 21, a rich, fruity delight.
If you’re pockets are deep, you’ll also find luxury drams such as John Walker & Sons Odyssey, a luxury blend made from just three single malts and presented in a nautical-inspired decanter. Also on display is The John Walker, a luxury blend named after the founder himself, presented in handcrafted decanter and cabinet, and crafted from whiskies from nine distilleries that operated in the 1800s during John Walker’s day.
The Miami store also showcases other whiskies from Diageo’s portfolio, including the likes of the beautifully balanced Talisker 10 Years Old, the powerfully peaty Lagavulin 16 Years Old, and three offerings from Mortlach, the beast of Dufftown as it’s affectionately known, namely – Mortlach Special Strength, originally released as a travel-retail exclusive, Mortlach 18 Years Old and Mortlach 25 Years Old. Other whiskies available include Dalwhinnie 15 Years Old, a much-loved dram full of heather, soft citrus notes and honey, as well as Singleton of Glendullan 18 Years Old.
In recent years, Diageo has taken to releasing an annual limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle into travel-retail marking that year’s Chinese zodiac sign. It’s a clever move given the whisky’s enormous popularity in Asia and in 2018 Johnnie Walker has brought out a Year of the Dog bottle at selected duty-free stores priced at around £175 for a 1-litre bottle. This latest design has been created by Taiwanese artist Page Tsou. It celebrates our close bond with man’s best friend (suitably Chinese motifs such as lanterns, fireworks and dancing dragons also feature prominently).
Back in the US, I am pleased to say that travellers flying domestically through Kentucky’s Louisville airport now can buy a selection of local Bourbons from the Distillery District Marketplace, which is located in the airport’s rotunda (past the security checkpoint). The initial line of up whiskeys stocked includes Angel’s Envy, Bulleit, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Old Crow and Wild Turkey. Other varieties will be added.
Given that Kentucky Louisville also boasts a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Store (located on the ticketing level before the security checkpoint), and the excellent Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen bar and restaurant, whiskey-loving travellers are increasingly well looked after. Best BuyGlenmorangie Cadboll
A new travel-retail Glenmorangie expression is always a treat and this new offering, Glenmorangie Cadboll, is no exception. Named after a precious 16th Century silver wine cup long treasured by the MacLeods of Cadboll, who built Glenmorangie’s Highland home in 1699, Glenmorangie Cadboll is matured in ex-bourbon casks before being finished in sweet French white wine casks.
The nose of Glenmorangie Cadboll is light and sweet with shades of lemon and vanilla. The palate has a biscuit-like quality with additional flavours of candy and icing sugar. The finish is long and complex with lingering, fruity hints of old-fashioned boiled sweets. Chill filtered and bottled at 43% ABV, Glenmorangie Cadboll will be available widely in travel-retail priced at about £75 per bottle.RecommendedOld Pulteney 1990 Vintage Cask
This new Old Pulteney whisky is one of three new expressions released at the recent Viking Line Whisky Fair, now in its tenth year and still going strong.
For the record, the other two releases were a younger 2006 Vintage Cask and a 2002 Single Cask, the latter to be sold exclusively onboard the Swedish ferry line.
Old Pulteney 1990 Vintage Cask is destined for a wider roll out. Bottled at a natural cask strength of 46% ABV and priced at about £288 per bottle, this whisky has had a complex maturation process, starting in American Bourbon casks, before being moved to Spanish sherry casks and then being finished in casks which previously held heavily peated whisky.
On the nose, the 1990 Vintage Cask has aromas of spice, toffee, and honey, while the palate offers up rich dried fruit and savoury smoke. The finish is long and smoky.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Year of the Dog edition
Johnnie Walker Store
Old Pulteney 1990 Vintage Cask