A recent business trip to Paris saw me fetch up at London Heathrow Terminal 5 with enough time before my early morning flight to take a bleary-eyed tour around the main World Duty Free (WDF) store. I was in for a surprise! It's six years since Terminal 5 opened its doors and WDF clearly think its time to ring the changes as half of the main store was closed for renovation when I ambled by while the other half containing the main tasting bar was dedicated to a big new Bacardi launch.
Nothing too interesting for whisky fans there, but a couple of stores along I spied a brand new World of Whiskies shop. As I recall it the old Terminal 5 World of Whiskies store was buried in the main beauty shop for some inexplicable reason, but I'm pleased to say in its new incarnation World of Whiskies gets its own standalone store. The emphasis is very much on the big brands more than categories and regions, so big hitters in travel-retail like Glenfiddich, Isle of Jura, Johnnie Walker, The Dalmore and Jack Daniel's get their own back-wall displays.
There is also a gondola dedicated to affordable travel-retail exclusives (the high-end, ultra-premium whiskies seem to be under lock and key behind the sales counter at the back of the store). Among the exclusive whiskies to catch my eye was the latest Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19 Year Old release, finished in South American red wine casks to create a sweet moreish whisky with lots of red berry and dry, spicy flavours (£85.99), and Auchentoshan Springwood (£40.99), a delightfully light and subtle dram, combining vanilla and grapefruit notes.
This being travel-retail you can't move an inch without bumping into a bottle of Johnnie Walker and the range on offer in the new store is certainly impressive. If money is no option there is the exquisitely packaged The John Walker at £2,750, but for those with more limited means I would opt for the latest release in The Explorers' Club Collection. Priced at £125, The Royal Route has a great dark amber colour and offers up lingering peaty notes on the nose and intense dried fruit, spice on the palate.
All in all, I thought World Duty Free had done a solid job of the new World of Whiskies store in Terminal 5. Although dominated by the big brands (smaller, independents and newcomers are harder to find), the store is bigger, brighter and much easier to shop than before. They also have stores at Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Bournemouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Belfast City.www.worldofwhiskies.com
Whisky aficionados should definitely make a point of visiting if Terminal 5 is on their travel itinerary.BEST BUY
Jim BeamSignature Craft 12 Year Old
This small-batch release from the mighty Jim Beam got plenty of plaudits from the US whiskey experts on its release in the US domestic market last year. It even won a Gold Medal in the Whiskey-USA category at last year's IWSC and now European travellers can get a chance to find out what all the fuss is about.
Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Old has been launched at all of Germany's major international airports and a wider European travel-retail roll out is planned later in the year. If you come across it in your travels, expect to pay around €33.90 (£27) for a 1-litre bottle of this 43% ABV whiskey.
In terms of flavour profile this whiskey offers up plenty of rich and robust oak flavours with dollops of sweet vanilla.RECOMMENDED
DrambuieTravel Retail Gift Pack
In recent years Drambuie has been upping its game in duty-free, releasing high-end exclusives such as The Royal Legacy of 1745 and generally following the lead of single-malt brands by making a fuss of travellers. This attempt to woo travellers continues with a rather attractive (and exclusive) gift pack containing a 50cl bottle of the original Drambuie and Drambuie 15, its older, less sweet and very drinkable sister expression. Two engraved glasses complete the pack along with a recipe for the Rusty Nail, the definitive Drambuie cocktail. Drambuie 15 has been crafted by Chief Blender Derek Mclnally.
Expect to find the new Drambuie Travel Retail Gift Pack at most major international airports.