The stirring sight of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic planes taking off simultaneously from Heathrow, bound for New York City, on 8 November 2021 marked the welcome return of transatlantic flights from the UK, after a lengthy 20-month ban caused by the pandemic. The Brits can’t wait to get back Stateside. According to the travel association ABTA, almost one in five people planning to holiday overseas in the next 12 months will opt for the US.
Whisky-loving travellers eagerly hopping over the pond will be pleased to discover that at New York City’s JFK Airport, the US’ most important international gateway, a new boutique has been opened by The Macallan in Terminal 7. The Macallan Boutique programme has already seen stores open at London Heathrow, Dubai International and Taiwan’s Taoyuan airports, and this latest outlet features a similar design to its predecessors, with a striking oak lattice centrepiece creating a visual link to the roof of The Macallan’s new distillery.
The shop sells an impressively wide range of The Macallan’s whiskies. Examples include the Red Collection, a range of incredibly rare spirits, the oldest of which is 78 years old; the Fine and Rare Collection, a family of 57 vintages released over eight decades; the travel-retail exclusive Boutique Collection; and the Folio Series, a collection of bottlings commemorating memorable advertising campaigns from the distillery’s past. The Macallan Concept No. 3, a newly launched global travel-retail exclusive featuring a bottle created by graphic designer David Carson, can also be picked up there.
Staying in the States, Diageo has recently teamed up with travel retailer DFS Group, which runs duty-free stores in JFK Terminal 4, Los Angeles Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal, and San Francisco Airport, to develop a digital whisky e-boutique in partnership with e-commerce company Inflyter. Travellers can download the Inflyter app and browse the online Johnnie Walker app before they fly, make purchases and organise collection in the DFS store of their choice.
In addition to a full line of Johnnie Walker whiskies, the Inflyter app offers travellers a range of Diageo malts, from The Singleton and Talisker, to Mortlach and Lagavulin. There is also a separate section dedicated to travel-retail exclusives, such as the ‘creamy, spicy’ Mortlach 14 Years Old and the ‘intensely smoky’ Talisker Dark Storm. Sections on highball cocktail recipes, the history of Johnnie Walker, and a guide to finding users’ favourite styles of whisky round out an impressive app.
The US is only beginning to open its doors to international travel, but the Middle East has been one of the fastest aviation markets to bounce back from the pandemic. Dubai International has been at the forefront of this positive trend, and any fans of The Macallan heading to the UAE for some winter sun should definitely make a beeline for the airport’s Le Clos store in Terminal 3, where a bottle from the distillery’s Anecdotes of Ages Collection has recently gone on display.
The Anecdotes of Ages Collection comprises 13 bottles of a 1967 whisky, with each featuring an original collage artwork by Sir Peter Blake on the label detailing stories relating to The Macallan’s history, employees, and natural surroundings. The specific bottle on display at the Le Clos store is Anecdotes of Ages: Journey to Market, which pays homage to the widespread travels of The Macallan as its reputation grew around the world.
To showcase even one of the Anecdotes of Ages Collection bottles is a genuine coup for Le Clos, cementing its reputation as one of The Macallan’s most important retail customers. It’s surely a sign that the travel-retail sector is finally getting back on its feet after the worst period in its history and once again securing some truly fantastic whisky launches.
New Travel Retail Exclusives
Style: Blended malt
Price per bottle: €50 (£42.55)
Bottling type: Distillery
Availability: Global travel retail
Country of origin: France, Germany, Ireland
This quirky blended malt whisky from Brittany’s Celtic Whisky Distillerie (now in the hands of Maison Villevert following a takeover last year) was one of the more unusual launches at the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes. Cellar master Aël Guégan and Maison Villevert founder Jean-Sébastien Robicquet have worked together to create a blend of malt whiskies from Scotland, Germany, and the Celtic Whisky Distillery; it has been designed to showcase the spirits’ shared Celtic qualities. The resulting whisky is an outstanding example of a ‘world blend’.
Bain’s21 Years Old Double Cask
Style: Single grain
Price per bottle: £142
Bottling type: Distillery
Availability: Travel retail
Country of origin: South Africa
This new one-litre expression from Bain’s is the first cask-strength whisky to be released in South Africa and is likely to be highly sought after by grain whisky enthusiasts. This expression started life as regular Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky before spending an additional 10 years in American oak casks. A final six years of ageing in amontillado and manzanilla sherry casks then followed. The oldest whisky Bain’s has ever released, this travel-retail exclusive is delightfully complex and rich; expect to find sticky toffee pudding notes on the nose, with cinnamon, almonds, hazelnuts and salted caramel on the palate.