Over the last couple of years, the global travel retail sector has been brutally hit by the Covid pandemic. Passenger numbers have crashed as worldwide travel restrictions have been implemented. But now the world is beginning to reopen with a ‘new normal’ and traveller numbers are rising, so whisky brands have responded with a raft of new and exciting releases. Here we look at some of the best exclusives to grab on your next trip through an airport.
Ballantine’s 23 Years Old
The blended Scotch brand of Ballantine’s has one of the most awarded ranges of whiskies in the world, with its wide domestic core collection supported by an ever-increasing set of travel retail blends.
This 23-years-old is a stunner. A high proportion of the single malt and single grain whiskies in the mix have been matured in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky. It is a marriage made in heaven and one that has produced a succulent and velvety mouth feel with luxurious notes of dried apple, floral honey, vanilla pod and layers of delicate spice.
Bowmore Aston Martin 10 Years Old
This whisky is part of a wider collaboration between the legendary Islay distillery and luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin. The 10 years old kicks off a trilogy of special bottlings that celebrate the craftsmanship of both companies.
Each whisky (there are 15- and 18-years-old expressions too) features an iconic car that has moulded Aston Martin’s history on the packaging. In this case, it is the Aston Martin LM10 that first featured in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1932. A delicious and classy combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.
Chivas Regal 18 Years Old Japanese Oak Finish
The Chivas Regal 18 years old is one of the all-time classic blended Scotch whiskies, but here it is presented with a twist. The iconic blend has undergone a finishing period in rare Mizunara oak casks from Japan for this bottling, and forms part of the brand’s wider airport-based Ultimate Cask Collection.
Luxurious notes of poached pear, honey and vanilla mingle with exotic wood spices, such as cedarwood and sandalwood, and juicy dried fruits to wonderful effect. The punchy 48% ABV also helps accentuate the aromas and flavours.
Glendronach Forgue 10 Years Old
Named after the nearby hamlet of Forgue in deepest Aberdeenshire, this bottling was the brand’s first exclusive release for travel retail. Previous whiskies had appeared, but these were from the domestic core range.
Glendronach are known for their use of ex-sherry casks sourced from the south of Spain. The Forgue 10 years old is no different and will not disappoint the Scottish distillery’s fanatical followers or new drinkers alike. Sweet, full bodied and rich with sultana, toffee and caramel notes plus delicate baking spices. Superb.
Glenmorangie The Accord 12 Years Old
The north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie relaunched its travel retail range in autumn 2021 with three whiskies at 12, 14 and 16 years of age. Each pushes the spirit in differing directions.
The Accord is classic Glenmorangie and uses a sumptuous marriage of high-quality ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels to create a whisky that is sweet, rich and fruity with hints of marzipan and chocolate.
If you prefer your whisky lighter and spicier then go for The Elementa, a virgin oak cask-inspired single malt. If its mildly smoky that you want, then The Tribute is for you.
Lagavulin 10 Years Old
This exclusive airport bottling from the iconic Islay distillery appeared pre-pandemic and features a combination of ex-bourbon, re-fill and freshly charred rejuvenated casks. The expressive, sweet and spicy notes from these barrels marry superbly with the characteristic bonfire-like smoke of Lagavulin and make this a perfect choice for peated Scotch whisky fans.
More uplifting and youthful than the classic Lagavulin 16 years old, this offers sweet and malty notes with white chocolate, butterscotch and peppery hot smoke. Fabulous.
Macallan Rare Cask Black
Many brands look beyond their core travel retail ranges and offer limited-edition whiskies for those with slightly deeper pockets. Macallan are one of the best at this and even boast their own Macallan Boutiques at selected airports around the world.
This Rare Cask Black shows the famous Speyside distillery in a different light by featuring scarce lightly peated spirit. This has been complemented with ageing in sherry seasoned barrels to give Macallan’s signature richness and sweetness. The packaging is sleek and classy with frosted black glass.
Penderyn were the pioneers of Welsh single malt and have been putting it back on the whisky map since 2000. This special travel retail offering pays homage to the distillery’s unique Faraday stills, which resemble something like a cross between traditional copper pot still and column still but with a huge glass collection vessel attached. These were designed by Dr. David Faraday specifically for Penderyn.
The Penderyn Faraday has been aged in ex-bourbon barrels before a finishing period in ex-ruby Port casks. Delicate yet fruity.
Teeling Explorers 12 Years Old
The family-owned Irish distillery of Teeling has recently released its Explorers Edition series into the travel retail sector. The Dublin-based brand is using the range to experiment a little as they continue to push the boundaries of modern Irish whiskey.
This small batch 12 years old blend of single pot still and grain whiskey is finished in ex-Cognac brandy casks sourced from France. The result is a whiskey packed with tropical fruit and sweet vanilla notes along with plenty of brown sugar, sultanas and warming cinnamon spice. Delicious.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof
The highly regarded bourbon brand from Kentucky has a good range of limited-edition expressions available to travellers. Arguably the best is the Rare Breed Barrel Proof.
At 58.4% ABV this American whiskey certainly packs a punch, but also offers amazing bang for your buck. This is made using whiskies that have been aged between six and 12 years in American oak. An uncompromising bourbon that is full of spicy wood and sweet vanilla notes, plus hints of orange peel, dark cherry and tobacco. Deep and moody.