All things considered, 2019 was quite a year for The Macallan in duty free. The iconic Speyside malt opened standalone boutiques at Dubai and London Heathrow Terminal 5 airports in June and July last year while a revamped Macallan store opened at Taiwan Taoyuan airport in November. All three stores feature a clean, minimalist design inspired by the whisky’s award-winning £140 million distillery, which opened in 2018.
The newest Macallan Boutique at Taiwan Taoyuan airport is located in Terminal 2 and stocks a wide range of expressions, including vintages such as the latest addition to the Fine & Rare Collection, The Macallan Fine and Rare 1979. Offering notes of gentle peat smoke, oak spice and warming ginger, this new cask-strength whisky was matured for four decades in an ex-sherry puncheon and is limited to fewer than 340 bottles worldwide.
The store also showcases The Macallan 72 Years Old in Lalique – The Genesis Decanter, the oldest ever The Macallan, which was released to celebrate the opening of the new distillery. The Macallan Boutique Collection, a range of whiskies exclusively available in the airport stores, is another highlight along with The Macallan Folio 5, the latest expression in a series that commemorates the brand’s memorable advertising campaigns of the past. Releases from The Macallan Exceptional Single Cask range also feature.
The Dubai, Heathrow and Taiwan boutiques will showcase the fifth and final release in the Golden Age of Travel series, a collection inspired by modes of transport popular in the 1930s. This latest expression is inspired by the airship, an illustration of which is engraved on the whisky’s travel-flask-shaped Lalique decanter. Each decanter comes in a leather presentation box made by Spanish leather masters Piñavall, which evokes design elements of 1930s travel trunks.
The whisky inside the decanter is The Macallan 1940: a rare 35-year-old whisky whose complex nose is a pleasing mix of smoky oak, orange and dried fruit notes. Smoked oak also features on the whisky’s rich palate alongside dark chocolate, sweet ginger and orange flavours. As you’d expect with a whisky this old, the finish is long and lingering.
This latest expression is inspired by the airship, an illustration of which is engraved on the whisky’s travel-flask-shaped Lalique decanter
All 48 individually numbered decanters of this latest Golden Age of Travel Macallan release went on sale exclusively in travel retail (including the Macallan Boutiques) last December with a recommended retail of $50,000 each. Given the phenomenal demand for The Macallan globally, I predict this latest luxury offering from Speyside will snapped up very quickly despite the hefty price tag.
Bourbon has traditionally taken a back seat to Scotch whisky in travel retail so it’s refreshing to see travel-retail exclusive Bourbons finally making an appearance. A case in point is Maker’s Mark Private Select; a new 54.1% ABV travel-retail exclusive expression which went on sale at Gebr. Heinemann’s shops at Sydney international airport last December priced at A$120.
Heinemann’s liquor buyer Amy Curtis helped worked with Maker’s Mark to create Private Select, choosing some of the 10 additional staves which were added to a single barrel of maturing Maker’s Mark to make the finished whiskey which (after nine weeks of additional maturation) boasts lots of black cherry and pipe tobacco aromas on the nose and dried fruit, nutmeg and apricots on the palate. The specially designed staves included Baked American Pure, Seared French Oak, Roasted French Mocha and Toasted French Spice.
From Sydney airport, we fly on to Dubai airport where Dubai Duty Free has recently partnered with Bacardi Global Travel Retail to launch the travel exclusive Aberfeldy 19 Years Old Exceptional Cask. This new small-batch release was created by Aberfeldy malt master Stephanie Macleod from just four casks. One was an ex-sherry cask and the other three were matured for 15 years in refill casks before being transferred into oloroso sherry casks for a further four years. Bottled at 43% ABV, Aberfeldy Exceptional Cask is sold only at Dubai Duty Free. Aberfeldy has risen quickly to become the tenth best-selling single malt in duty free and with offerings of such quality as this it’s not hard to see why. Best BuyGlenrothes19 Years Old Exclusive Single Cask Edition
The Glenrothes master whisky maker Gordon Motion has chosen a small selection of his best casks for this new release, which has gone on sale exclusively with World Duty Free at London Heathrow airport and is priced at £185.
Glenrothes 19 Years Old Exclusive Single Cask Edition is the second exclusive expression made for Heathrow from the Speyside distillery and is drawn from an ex-Bourbon barrel filled back in June 1999.
Limited to just 274, 70cl bottles, this cask-strength whisky has a well-balanced fruity and spicy flavour palette with plenty of depth and complexity.RecommendedLegentKentucky Bourbon
This quirky East-meets-West Bourbon was made jointly by Fred Noe, Jim Beam master distiller and Shinji Fukuyo, the chief blender of Japanese whisky producer Suntory.
Legent starts off life as a Jim Beam Bourbon which is then extra aged for a few months in selected wine and sherry casks. The resulting spirit has a rich, smooth and round flavour profile with spice and fruit notes imparted by the wine casks. The finish is long.
Legent is bottled at 47% ABV and in travel retail will be available in Dufry’s duty-free stores exclusively until September this year when a wider travel retail roll out will follow.