The duty-free industry’s annual get-together was held a month earlier than usual this year. President Sarkozy’s decision to host the G-20 meeting in Cannes in November dislodged the Tax Free World Association (TFWA) World Exhibition from its traditional October slot. There were of course some initial grumbles from the trade about organising the show so soon after the long European summer holidays, but once underway the fantastic September weather lifted everybody’s spirits.
And it wasn’t just the Riviera sun making exhibitors and buyers smile. The £24.7 billion global duty-free trade is in remarkably good shape considering the Eurozone economic crisis, which is currently ravaging the industry’s biggest market. Wealthy travellers from mainland China, India, Russia and Latin America are helping to keep tills ringing. The sums some of these customers are spending can be huge; in August, for instance, the last bottle of The Dalmore 62 Years Old was sold at Singapore Changi airport for £125,000, making it the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold.
The Macallan’s owners The Edrington Group are certainly hoping to replicate that kind of success with the latest addition to the Lalique Six Pillars Collection. The Macallan in Lalique Curiously Small Stills decanter was unveiled during Cannes at a press launch in the Majestic Hotel, which attended by The Macallan’s director of fine & rare whiskies David Cox and Lalique president Silvio Denz.
Lucky journalists were allowed to taste a wee dram of the 60 Years Old whisky, which was selected from five sherry butts made from a mix of Spanish and American oak filled in 1950.
Of course, much of the £12,700 cost of this whisky is wrapped up in its undoubtedly beautiful Lalique decanter, which is handmade by 15 of Lalique’s top craftsmen in the company’s crystal factory in Alsace.
At the other end of the price spectrum The Edrington Group unveiled a travel-retail exclusive The Famous Grouse priced at a modest £29. The Black Grouse Alpha Edition is a richer, smokier expression of The Black Grouse, which met with great success after its launch back in 2007. Alpha Edition will hit travel-retail shelves early next year.
Finally, William Grant & Sons was out in force at Cannes to trumpet the multi-million dollar revamp of Tullamore Dew. After a press conference to unveil the Irish whiskey’s new bottle and ad campaign, a cocktail party was held onboard company president Charles Gordon’s racing yacht Cinderella IV.
This year’s early start guaranteed a balmy evening, a wonderful sunset over the bay of Cannes, and a promising start to a new chapter in Tullamore Dew’s history.BEST BUY
Not every whisky launched at last month’s TFWA World Exhibition was expensive enough to burn a hole through the deepest of pockets. For instance, Ian Macleod Distillers added to its growing range of travel-retail exclusive Glengoyne expressions with the launch of the new 15 Years Old Distiller’s Gold.
The new whisky is dedicated to the memory of the distillery’s first manager Cochran Cartwright, whose ghost is still said to make regular appearances at the distillery! Distiller’s Gold is light amber in colour with fresh hay and citrus fruit on the nose. On the palate the whisky is sweet with hints of cinnamon, while the finish is long, spicy with lingering oak. For a one litre bottle of Distiller’s Gold expect to pay around £43.99.RECOMMENDED
Chivas Regal18 Years Old by Vivienne Westwood
After previous collaborations with Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix Pernod Ricard has teamed up with the original doyenne of punk fashion Vivienne Westwood to create the latest limited edition Chivas Regal 18 Years Old bottle.
Chivas Regal 18 Years Old by Vivienne Westwood was initially launched at leading airports in Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong during the months of September and October.
Priced at around £313 per bottle, this special edition is now being rolled out to airports worldwide, but quantities are limited to 2,500 bottles.
Vivienne Westwood Chivas Regal 18 Years Old