Yet the duty-free liquor scene at the airport has taken a definite turn for the better of late. In June McCarran opened its long-awaited Terminal 3, a vast sky-lit structure stretching almost half a mile from end to end. One of the highlights of this gleaming $2.4bn facility, which is the new home for all foreign flag carriers flying to the airport, is what is claimed to be one of the US’ largest duty-free shops, operated by Swiss multinational Nuance.
The amount of space allocated to liquor has grown six fold to nearly 170 square meters, and one of the main features of the displays at the new Duty Free Store by Nuance is a Jack Daniel’s shop-in-shop, one of only two in the whole of the country. It’s effectively a scaled-down version of the famous whiskey’s original distillery shop at Lynchburg, Tennessee. It sells all manner of branded merchandise in addition to a complete range of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
For gift seekers there is also a real barrel of Jack Daniel’s Silver Select. Customers are able to buy a personalised bottle of this great duty-free exclusive whiskey filled directly from the barrel itself.
It is a great piece of in-store theatre, which would be welcome at many other airport shops around the world.
The Brits and Canadians have traditionally been some of the best liquor buyers at the airport but when it comes to whisky (and Cognac) Mexicans are some of the highest spenders, which is perhaps why Buchanan’s is featured so prominently in store.
The number of Chinese travellers is increasing too, which has led the new shop to expand and rethink its area dedicated to luxury spirits, which includes a decent selection of single malts and premium blends.
Diageo has invested in a Discovery Table in this part of the store, where travellers can get up close to some of the key ingredients used to make whisky, learn more about how it is made and so on.
To complement this display, Diageo has introduced some of its top end whiskies such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V Edition, and the über-premium The John Walker at $3,000.
The only negative about the shop is the lack of a meaningful presence at the McCarran website, where travellers can browse the offer before getting to the shop, but that criticism applies to many US airport retailers. Nonetheless, if you like your whisk(e)y, and are flying from McCarran any time soon, this new shop is definitely worth a visit.
Opening hours: Open for all international flights.
Millennium Vintage Limited Edition
This new 12 Years Old exclusive expression from Glenfiddich was promoted heavily by UK airport retailer World Duty Free as part of its ‘Celebrate 2012’ marketing campaign. The new vintage is available exclusively with World Duty Free at its UK airport shops, which include the three big London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted), plus Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester.
Priced affordably at just £39.99, this whisky was put into a mix of American and European oak casks back in 2000. It features fresh, fruit notes of pear on the nose, while on the palate butterscotch, cream and subtle oak flavours come the fore. The finish is long and smooth.
John Walker & Sons
Asian duty-free shops are the first port of call for this handsome new nautical-themed duty-free exclusive from Johnnie Walker. John Walker & Sons Odyssey is apparently inspired by an invention of Sir Alexander Walker, the pioneering son of the brand’s founder, who hit upon the idea of a decanter, which would move with the motion of the sea.
Thus, the tear-shaped, crystal decanter of Odyssey cleverly swings in its presentation case when it is turned gently, always returning to an upright position.
As for the whisky inside the decanter, it was developed by master blender Jim Beveridge using handwritten notes scribbled by Sir Alexander himself some 80 years ago.
A blend of three malts, the new whisky is described as “big”, “bold”, but also “exceptionally smooth”.
John Walker & Sons Odyssey went on sale exclusively at Singapore Changi and Shanghai Pudong international airports from September 1st priced at around $950 (£600). A wider roll out to select international airports around the world will follow later in the year.