A trip north of the border to watch the Scottish Open earlier this summer saw me fly from the vast, ultra-modern steel and glass edifice of Heathrow Terminal 5 to the gloomy concrete and confusing layout of Glasgow international — a 1960s dinosaur of an airport currently in the throes of a much-needed, £290m refurbishment programme.
On my return a day later I was unable to browse the main duty-free whisky store.
Frustratingly, there is no common user lounge at Glasgow for departing passengers and most of the shops are pre-security. As a poor domestic traveller, I had to make do with a small outlying shop near my gate.That all should hopefully change with the opening later this year of a shiny new £31m terminal extension.
To be honest, it was ridiculously early in the morning to be contemplating alcohol of any sort, but World Duty Free (WDF) promoters were still gamely trying to tempt a bleary-eyed middle-aged couple to try a dram or two. Top marks for persistence and the whisky selection itself, although obviously lacking the high-end items you might find in a larger store, wasn’t half bad either.
My eye was caught by a bottle of Glenmorangie Cellar 13 at £32.50, a travel-retail exclusive line, that has now been discontinued and well worth picking up before stocks run out. Other very decent malts that stood out for me included The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Selection at £41.99, Laphroaig Quarter Cask at £30.99, the travel-retail exclusive Highland Park 16 Years Old, a cracking dram, at £36.99, and Bowmore 15 Years Old at £30.99.
A word of warning, don’t be tempted to take a photo of the shop as I attempted, or at least not in full view of the shop assistant, who quickly told me it was not allowed.“Security regulations forbid it,”she said. In this new security conscious age, writing this column isn’t getting any easier.
The Snow Grouse
Real innovations in the whisky world are becoming rare, but this latest Famous Grouse line extension is a pleasant surprise.The Snow Grouse is a blended grain whisky, which has been slowly chill-filtered so it can be kept in the freezer without going cloudy.
Served straight from the freezer, it has an almost gloopy mouth feel, very little aroma, but a refreshingly light and delicate taste with plenty of sweet vanilla and honey. At room temperature Snow Grouse is less impressive, but then the product has been designed specifically to be served “seriously chilled”.
Not one for the purists perhaps, but it does make for a great introductory dram for people who profess to dislike whisky. Priced at e19.99 (£15.80) for a 1-litre bottle, Snow Grouse is set to be a travel-retail exclusive for six months before a wider roll out.
Glenmorangie has traditionally been viewed unfairly as something of an entry-level malt, but since LVMH purchased the company in 2004 the quality of the whiskies has got even better.
Glenmorangie Astar is a great example of this commitment to quality, having been matured in casks made from slow-growing, fine-grained American white oaks selected by the head of distillation & whisky creation, Bill Lumsden. The colour of the resulting 57.1%abv whisky is bright gold with a rich toffee-like aroma with a sweet, creamy taste with plenty of chocolate, toasted almonds and aniseed spices.
You will find Glenmorangie Astar at major airports priced at about e60 (£47.40) per bottle.