At the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes, I was able to do just that courtesy of a Beam Suntory virtual reality headset experience. The tour started off with a bird's eye view of the Bowmore Distillery on the shores of Loch Indaal before taking me through the distillery production process, from the malting floor and the still house to the legendary No1 Vaults, built in 1779 and now the world's oldest whisky warehouse. There I could choose to learn about what extra flavours are imparted to the sleeping whisky by different types of cask.
Such fun and educational interactive experiences are becoming more and more common at airport shops. At airports, people often have the time and inclination to do something a little bit different than just grab a bottle of their favourite dram and head for the tills. In Cannes, the excuse for all the high-tech fun was the launch of a new age statement Bowmore Travel Retail range comprising a 10 Years Old, a 15 Years Old and an 18 Years Old, which all should be making their way into major airport stores in the coming
The return to age statements for Bowmore is a big deal in Travel Retail where non age statement Travel Retail expressions are now the norm. That extra maturation certainly shows up in the depth and complexity of all three of these drams, which really showcase the warm balance and refinement Bowmore is noted for. The youngest of the trio, Bowmore 10 Years Old, is matured in sherry casks and has a wonderful dark amber colour. Dried fruit, orange and honey notes vie for attention on the nose before giving way to dried fruit, sea salt and warming spices on the palate.
The new Bowmore 15 Years Old is a very different beast to the 10 Years Old, having been matured in first-fill Bourbon casks and hogsheads. Citrusy lemon notes come to the fore on the nose and palate balanced by sweet honey and gently smoky tobacco leaf.
Last up is the rich, complex Bowmore 18 Years Old, which has been aged in a combination of dry, nutty Oloroso and sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. The resulting whisky is delicately balanced with a rich, chocolate aroma. The palate oozes dark treacle, sticky dates and bittersweet orange peel before roasted coffee and nutty notes take over.
The new Bowmore range wasn't the only show in town during Cannes this year, of course. Chivas Brothers was keen to show off the latest addition to the Chivas Regal family - a blended malt called Chivas Ultis comprised of whiskies from the Tormore, Longmorn, Strathisla, Allt A'Bhaine and Braeval distilleries. Created as a tribute to the blend's five master blenders since 1909 (Charles Howard, Charles Julian, Allan Baillie, Jimmy Lang and current master blender Colin Scott), this whisky is certainly very moreish with lots of fruity notes on the nose and plenty of toffee, pear, and sweet spice on the palate, but at £157 it doesn't come cheap.
Another highlight for me at the show was the launch of three new Travel Retail exclusive Glen Scotia single malt whiskies, all of them non-chill filtered and naturally coloured.
All along the Cannes Croisette during this year's TFWA World Exhibition there was no escaping the 22 giant posters advertising Kavalan whisky. In partnership with distributor La Maison du Whisky, the award-winning Taiwanese whisky staged a lavish launch at the show for its first.
Travel Retail exclusive expression: Kavalan Original.
Kavalan Original is bottled at 43% ABV and matured in rare puncheon sherry casks to create a rich, satisfying whisky which comes packaged handsomely in a 50cl bottle. Almonds and hazelnuts feature on the nose along with the whisky's traditional tropical fruit aromas. The palate is rich and oily with flavours of butter and caramel merged with soft oak tannins.
Port Cask Reserve
Following on the from the successful launch of Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve last year comes the new Travel Retail exclusive Port Cask Reserve.
The inspiration for the Sherry Cask Reserve last year was the 125th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the SS Bushmills steamship. The steamship's subsequent voyages around the world are the catalyst for the Bushmills Steamship Collection.
Master blender Helen Mulholland travelled to Portugal's Douro valley to personally select the casks for this rich, smooth port cask finished whiskey, which delivers notes of damson, black coffee and almonds.
Available at Global Travel Retail outlets from November, 40% ABV Bushmills Port Cask Reserve comes in a 70cl bottle and will be priced at about £99 per bottle.