Travel Retail

The Macallan expands

The world’s most collectible single malt has just opened a new permanent shop at London Heathrow airport
By Joe Bates
Macallan's new store
Macallan's new store
The Macallan has big plans to expand its already considerable presence in Duty free, through a new programme of airport store boutiques. The first outlet opened at Dubai airport in June this year in partnership with wine and spirits retailer Le Clos, selling a range of prestige expressions and exclusives. A second boutique has now opened at London Heathrow Terminal 5 with World Duty Free.

The look of the new Heathrow store features a distinctive oak lattice centrepiece which has been inspired by the famous wavy, grass-covered roof of the new £140m Macallan distillery, which boasts one of the world’s most complicated timber-roof structures. The boutique also sports stunning Macallan-related cinematography and content to educate travellers on the Speyside distillery and its history.

As for the whisky on offer, it includes luxury expressions such as The Macallan 72 Years Old in Lalique – The Genesis Decanter, the oldest ever whisky to be released by the distillery, priced at a cool £48,600. The whisky was distilled in the 1940s and has a smoky, peaty flavour profile balanced by strong, sweet oak notes. The design takes its inspiration from the curved shape of the new distillery’s roof, while the wood presentation case features a curved wooden roof over the decanter, and a footprint taken directly from the circular layout of the distillery’s three new still houses.

Other high-end offerings include the new Macallan Boutique Collection, The Macallan Folio 5, The Golden Age of Travel Series, another collaboration with Lalique, and the celebrated The Macallan Masters of Photography Series. For those on slightly more restricted budgets when travelling, there is also the travel-retail exclusive The Macallan Quest collection which features four non-age statement whiskies: Quest (£63.99), Lumina (£85), Terra (£137.99) and finally, Enigma (£214.50).

The Macallan may be climbing the duty-free ladder fast, but Johnnie Walker has been on top of the Travel Retail tree for three decades as the best-selling spirit in duty-free. Sales rose nearly eight per cent last year and a constant stream of new exclusive expressions is one key reason why travellers keep on buying this famous old blend. The latest new release is the Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series: a collection of four 12 year-old blended whiskies, with each one made from whiskies from a particular Scottish region.

As the name suggests, Johnnie Walker Black Label Highlands Origin contains only single malts from the Highlands, with the signature malts being the robust Clynelish and the little known Diageo distillery of Teaninich. Its flavour is described as being “rich and fruity” with red berry and stone fruit notes.

Johnnie Walker Black Label Islay Origin, the second expression in the Origins Series, is described as having a “warming maritime smokiness” and is made with single-malts from Islay, including Lagavulin and Caol Ila. Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin is a light and fruity whisky full of green orchard fruit flavours; Cardhu and Glendullan are the whiskies at the heart of this expression.

The fourth whisky in the new range is the sweet, creamy, vanilla and toffee-tasting Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowlands Origin, which contains a variety of single and grain whiskies from the Lowlands, notably Glenkinchie and Cameronbridge. The Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series is available widely at travel retail shops worldwide until October this year when it will go on wider release. Each whisky has a recommended travel-retail price of about £35 per 1-litre bottle.

At the other end of the price spectrum, but also a Travel Retail exclusive is the new Talisker 41 Year Old, the oldest official bottle to have been released by the Skye distillery. This 1978 vintage release was finished in ex-Manzanilla sherry casks from Bodega Delgado Zuleta, one of Spain’s oldest sherry producers.

The six casks are more than a century old and the finished whisky is remarkably rich and complex. The nose offers up sultanas and orange peel, framed by sandalwood, salty sea air and smoky raw sugar. The palate beautifully balances sweetness and smoke and the finish is long, dry and softly smoky. Bottled at 50.7% ABV, Talisker 41 Year Old is the second whisky released from the distillery’s Bodega Series and is limited to 2,000 70cl bottles priced at around £2,600 each.

Best Buy
The Famous Grouse
Toasted Cask
This new release from The Famous Grouse is the first Travel Retail exclusive expression in the distillery’s Cask Series.
First introduced in 2018, the Cask Series aims to showcase the different flavours delivered by various cask.
The Famous Grouse Toasted Cask is finished in freshly toasted new oak casks to create a whisky with butterscotch, lemon and nutmeg on the nose; marshmallow, cracked black pepper and sweet liquorice on the palate, and a sweet, smokey finish.
Priced at around £21.60 for a 1-litre bottle, The Famous Grouse Toasted Cask is available at major European airport stores and onboard Scandinavian ferry lines such as Viking Line and Tallink, as well as onboard British Airways.

Recommended
Smokehead
Rum Riot
This funkily-packaged Islay single malt brand has been growing at 50 per cent year-on-year internationally and this new Travel Retail exclusive expression, Smokehead Rum Riot, was unveiled to buyers at the TFWA Asia Pacific show in Singapore this May.
As the name suggests, this Islay single malt has been finished in Caribbean rum casks. The resulting whisky is initially powerfully smoky and spicy, before banana, pear and honey notes take over. The finish delivers a heavy hit of peat.
Smokehead Rum Riot is priced at about £44.90 for 70cl and joins the brand’s existing GTR exclusive expression, Smokehead Extra Rare.