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8 Travel Retail Exclusive Whiskies To Look Out For At The Airport

  • Apr 16, 2024
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8 Travel Retail Exclusive Whiskies To Look Out For At The Airport

With summer on the horizon and thoughts turning to potential holiday destinations, this time of the year signals an upturn in spirits sales within the travel retail market.

Many whisky and spirits brands create exclusive products for this sector that are unavailable on the high street. Companies use the global marketplace to experiment and evolve ranges of whisky that offer something different from their regular bottlings.

Retailers in the travel retail sector also offer competitive or tax-free prices and often have a wide selection of tasting stock available to sample. So, next time you are going through the airport, what should you look for? We have some suggestions.

Ardbeg | Smoketrails

If you like your Scotch single malts big, bold and smoky, look no further than Ardbeg. The Islay distillery has its core range in travel retail but occasionally introduces a tempting limited edition. Smoketrails refers to the visible trails left in the sky by planes, and the latest iteration is the Côte Rôtie Edition.

This sees a marriage of classic Ardbeg ex-bourbon casks with highly sought-after Côte Rôtie red wine casks from the Rhône region in southern France. Expect a whisky that packs a punch with ashy, medicinal peat smoke combining with red berries, vanilla toffee and hints of camphor and menthol. 

Benriach | Triple Distilled 10 Years Old

The quirky Speyside distillery of Benriach is different from most in Scotland. Not only do they produce a peated spirit in addition to their classic Speyside malt, but they have also been making a triple-distilled single malt for a short period each year since 1998. The only place you can regularly purchase this spirit is through travel retail.

The rare whisky features three cask types to mirror the distillations: ex-bourbon, ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry and virgin American oak. The combination creates a heady mix of flavours – think of green apple, vanilla and toasted almond married with candied orange, brandy-soaked raisins and vibrant warming wood spices. 

Bowmore | Aston Martin 15 Years Old

The Islay distillery of Bowmore’s collaboration with the legendary automobile manufacturer Aston Martin has spawned several limited-edition bottlings. In addition to these, a travel retail exclusive range includes this wonderful 15-year-old expression. Each whisky’s packaging features a historical Aston Martin car.

The 15-year-old features the Aston Martin DB4 from 1958 and has been matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and hogsheads. Notes of toffee, vanilla and candied lemon dominate, with elegant hints of milk chocolate, honeycomb and sweet tobacco leaf in the background. All are wrapped in a cloak of gentle peat smoke.

Bushmills | Port Cask Reserve

The Irish distillery of Bushmills has a rich heritage of releasing innovative and award-winning whiskeys into the travel retail market. The Port Cask Reserve is the second edition in their Steamship Collection, which marks the 125th anniversary of the SS Bushmills steamship’s maiden voyage.

The Port Cask Reserve offers triple-distilled Irish single malt matured in ex-Ruby Port Casks sourced from the Douro Valley in Portugal. The whiskey exhibits rich and sweet characteristics, with plenty of plum, red berry and prune on show. These notes are accentuated by milk chocolate, coffee and warm baking spices. It’s rich and bold.

Glenfiddich | Perpetual Cask Vat 01

The Speyside distillery of Glenfiddich is the best-selling Scotch single malt in the world. Their travel retail range features four whiskies that have spent time in their famous solera vats –  these vats contain whiskies that are added, topped up and allowed to marry and blend perfectly. Vat 01 has ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks in the mix.

The result is a no-age statement whisky that is bright, vibrant and fresh. Initial notes of vanilla custard, toffee apple and creamed coconut give way to further notes of chocolate oat cookies, butterscotch and drying oak spices. A hint of crisp green pear and guava sit underneath and round things off nicely.

Great neat or over ice.

Glenmorangie | The Tribute 16 Years Old

The famous Highland distillery of Glenmorangie is one of the most experimental big Scotch whisky brands. This whisky perfectly demonstrates that and features a rare batch of ‘heritage spirit’ – the brand’s name for their lightly peated single malt. This is made very sporadically and uses local Highland peat.

The opportunity to taste peated Glenmorangie is scarce and one not to be missed. Maturation in ex-bourbon barrels has taken this 16-year-old down a classic Glenmorangie flavour path, but with the added peaty twist.

Expect vanilla, honeycomb and malted cereals with tropical fruit, walnut and a whisp of earthy smoke.

Jack Daniel’s | Single Malt

The biggest-selling American whiskey brand has a history of using travel retail to push boundaries. But of all the innovative releases to date, few sent more ripples around the spirits world than the release of their inaugural American single malt. 

Made from 100% malted barley, it is the first such whiskey from the distillery. It has seen initial maturation in new American oak barrels before a finishing period in ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

Expect earthy cereal notes married with honey, vanilla and white chocolate. Hints of peach, cinnamon and cocoa sit in the background.

Teeling | Explorers Edition 12 Years Old

The Explorers Series is the travel retail range from the Dublin-based Irish whiskey brand Teeling. Each expression in the series has a quirk or twist and takes the spirit away from the norm to encourage exploration of flavour. In the case of this 12-year-old, it has seen part-maturation in rare Amburana casks, a Brazilian hardwood.

This is the only commercially available Irish whiskey matured in such casks, and it takes the whiskey in an exotic direction. It is immediately fruity and spicy with leading notes of baked apple, cinnamon and vanilla. Then come further notes of almond marzipan, walnut and a hint of liquorice.

The finish is long and pleasantly drying.

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