Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

Joe Bates looks at the delightful London City airport

Travel Retail | 18 Jan 2008 | Issue 69 | By Joe Bates

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If you are all too familiar with the long security queues, traffic jams and general pandemonium of Heathrow or Gatwick, taking a flight from London City airport comes as a pleasant surprise.

Along with your fellow passengers, who are mainly affluent city types, you are whisked through security in a trice to find yourself in a small, but wonderfully under-populated departures lounge. A short stroll along the tarmac takes you to waiting plane. It is all such a revelatory experience it would be all too easy to bypass the airport’s small and rather cluttered duty-free shop. This would be a shame because if you can fight your way through the Hugo Boss shirts and fragrance promotions to the back of the store you will find a small, but perfectly decent whisky offer, which panders to the deep pockets of the frequent business travellers, who form the airport’s main customer base.

The undoubted highlight of the selection is a wide range of specialist bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail taken from the company’s Connoisseurs Choice collection.

The promoted whisky of the month when we travelled was Gordon & MacPhail Glen Keith 1967 at £74.99, but look on the airport’s excellent website, before you travel to check out the entire range.

Elsewhere, you will also find some other fine collectors’ items such as Lochnagar 33 Years Old, Inchgower 1965 and Macduff 35 Years Old, all priced on promotion at £149.99. Meanwhile the mid-priced offer contains all the names you would expect such as Balvenie,Talisker, The Macallan, Glenfiddich and Bruichladdich.

The shop also stocks a better-than-average selection of Irish whiskey such as the high-end Jameson 18 Years Old at £60 and Bushmills 21 Years Old at £120, as well as the harder-to-find Kilbeggan (£11.99) and Tyrconnell at £16.99.

If you are worried about lugging your purchases around with you on your trip, use the shop’s handy collection service, which allows you to pick up your shopping on your return.


Rarest Vintage Reserve

Jameson has been steadily climbing up the duty-free spirit brand rankings in the past few years so it is no surprise to see that the new ultra-premium Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, which was released in October, is squarely targeted at travel-retail with its wealthy customer demographic. The price tag for this new release, which will sit at the top of Jameson brand family, is being kept under wraps, but when it appears on the shelves in early 2008 expect it to be significantly higher than Jameson 18 Years Old Reserve, the previous top-end reference.

Will the price be justified when it bears no age statement? Well, the new whiskey is said to contain a blend of some of the oldest pot still and grain whiskeys stored in the brand’s vast Midleton distillery, some of which were maturing in port pipes, imparting the finished product a particularly fruit rich taste.


18 Years Old

This excellent Japanese malt whisky from Suntory is being stocked by World Duty Free at its UK airport shops priced at £47.99— a clear sign that the retailer is prepared to look beyond the obvious choices to deliver an increasingly first-rate selection. Matured in sherry butts, this creamy 43% ABV whisky is particularly well balanced.There is plenty of dry fruit on the nose and palate and a long, satisfyingly dry finish to cap it off.
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