Travel Retail

Shannon's Offer

Joe Bates goes back to the spiritual home of the duty-free sector
By Joe Bates
Ireland’s Shannon airport is where it all began for the $39 billion duty-free industry. Back in the late 1940s a new era of transatlantic travel was dawning, but the lumbering piston aircraft that were used to make the long, arduous trip needed to refuel en route and Shannon airport perched on Ireland’s west coast was deemed the perfect stopping off point.Shannon soon became a gateway to Europe for transatlantic flights. Savvy airport managers saw the commercial potential of a duty-free store where bored and weary passengers could buy cheap booze, cigarettes and fragrances.The duty-free industry never looked back, but the years have not been so kind to Shannon airport, which now relies on short haul traffic for its survival.In recent times passenger numbers have fallen off sharply as Ireland slid into recession and low cost airlines axed flights to the airport. The airport’s state-owned airport authority ARI Ireland is hoping a new €1m (£850,000) facelift of Shannon’s shopping and dining offer, which opened in December last year, might help arrest the airport’s declining fortunes.A highlight of the revamped shopping offer is The Irish Whiskey Collection outlet, a scaled-down version of the larger concept store now trading at Dublin airport’s Terminal 2, which has proved so successful since opening in 2009. Twenty new Irish whiskeys have been added to the Shannon range including two exclusives: Greenore 19 Years Old Single Grain (€250/£208) and Midleton Single Cask 1991 (€195/£162). A full range of Midleton vintage whiskeys is also stocked.Independent brands get a good look in at the new store.Travellers can choose from the likes of Inish Turk Beg (€150/£125), John L Sullivan (€33/£27.50), Coleraine (€18/£15) and Kellan (€32/£26.60). Serious collectors will also be intrigued by Knappogue Castle 1951, which is priced at a hefty €997/£828 and billed as the oldest Irish whiskey available for sale anywhere.Produced by the B. Daly Distillery in Tullamore the whiskey was aged in sherry casks for 36 years and bottled in 1987.A handy shop and collect service is available. Recommended
Glen Grant Limited Edition 25 Years Old Glen Grant hasn’t traditionally been a major force in duty-free, but this latest release from owner Campari has been targeted squarely at the booming travel retail markets of Asia. Matured in sherry oak casks, this new whisky is described as “smooth” with a palate balancing dried fruit and hints of heather honey.Only around 800 bottles are available priced at around £300 each. Note that Glen Grant Limited Edition 25 Years Old is already available in selected French domestic outlets.Best Buy
Highland Park Drakkar The sight of a fleet of Drakkar Viking long ships emerging from the morning mist typically meant your fishing village was in a for a really bad day back in the thirteenth century. Several hundred years later and one of those feared Viking warships of old is appearing in a much more benign form on the bottle label of yet another travel-retail whisky from Highland Park, which has long looked to Orkney’s Viking heritage for creative inspiration.On the nose the warm, amber coloured 40% abv Highland Park Drakkar gives plenty of dried fruit with the brand’s trademark heather smoke coming through strongly. The whisky delivers citrus and cherry on the palate while the finish is rich and long.German and Scandinavian airports were among the first to receive this new whisky when it was released late last year, but expect to find it widely available priced at around €39.99 (£33.20) for a 1-litre bottle.