American bourbon has risen to become New Zealand’s number one spirit in recent years so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see that Regency Duty Free, Auckland airport’s main duty-free operator, stocks a fairly limited choice.
Instead travellers will find that the in-store offer is skewed towards the tastes of high-spending Asian visitors, who flock to the country in search of stunning Middle Earth scenery and exotic seafood.
So look out for some high-ticket deluxe blends such as Ballantines 30 Year Old at NZ$425 (£146), Royal Salute 21 Year Old at NZ$138.90 (£48), and Johnnie Walker Blue Label at NZ$180 (£62).
In contrast, the bourbon offer is dominated by global heavyweight Jim Beam, which is represented in all its various incarnations. Small-batch bourbons are in short supply, but Cougar Bourbon, a popular regional brand owned by Australian brewer Foster’s priced at NZ$29.95 (£10.30), adds a little local colour. On the US whiskey front duty-free exclusive reference Jack Daniel’s Silver Select (NZ$79.90/£27.50) is also worth a look.
The malt offer is much better represented with a good range of brands and age statements on sale. Examples from the mid to upper end of the selection include Longmorn 15 Year Old (NZ$69.90/£24), The Glenlivet 18 Year Old (NZ$99.90/£34.40), Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 Year Old (NZ$130/£45) and Isle of Jura Superstition (NZ$72.90/£25).
It’s worth noting that Regency runs an arrivals store at the airport and a small store in downtown Auckland. For those tempted the arrivals allowance for overseas visitors is a generous three litres of spirits.
Customers can also pre-order their purchase on Regency’s easy-to-use website, www.regencyduty-free.co.nz, as long as they place their order at least 24 hours before visiting the shop.
50 Year Old
Bob Brannan, the new boss at Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay, is making his presence felt at the company, revamping tired old packaging, re-launching ad campaigns and making travel-retail a priority for the company once again.
This new offering from The Dalmore, which is exclusive to duty-free and has been listed at London Heathrow, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Sydney and Johannesburg airports priced at about £350, is sure to arouse collectors’ interest. Presented in a handsome wooden gift box, only 238 10cl bottles have been made and half have already been sold.
This powerfully rich whisky is blended from distillations from 1868, 1876, 1926, 1939 and 1955. Bottled at a cask strength of 52.8%abv it offers rich, deep citrus fruits on the palate coupled with marzipan and toffee apple. More of the same please Bob.
8 Year Old
This new quirky single grain whiskey from Cooley Distillery, Ireland’s only independent whiskey distiller, is a welcome addition to the duty-free shelves of all leading Irish airport stores this summer.
Greenore 8 Year Old is being offered to Aer Rianta, Ireland’s largest duty-free operator, at a price of about £18 as an exclusive for a two-month period over the summer before a wider duty-free roll out.
Only 5,000 bottles have been produced, however, so stocks will be very limited.
The liquid itself has been double distilled and matured in American bourbon barrels, which are stored in a 200-year old granite warehouse at Cooley’s County Louth distillery. The resulting whiskey has a soft nose redolent of sweet corn and bourbon; a rich taste and a crisp, oak finish.
If you are not lucky enough to find a bottle, Cooley says older batches of Greenore are in the pipeline—10, 16 and 18 Year Olds are all planned.