High flyers - single malts in travel retail

18 July, 2014

Over the past year Glengoyne, Bowmore, Bruichladdich and The Glenrothes have all brought out core travel retail-exclusive ranges. However, the biggest recent launch of them all was undoubtedly that of market leader Glenfiddich, whose The Cask Collection comprised three NAS expressions – Select Cask, Reserve Cask and Vintage Cask – each matured in a different type of oak cask and finished in three specially constructed Solera vats.

The Glenfiddich Cask Collection was first unveiled last year with Gebr Heinemann and World Duty Free Group at Frankfurt and London Heathrow airports respectively before a wider roll out to key international airport hubs such as Hong Kong and Las Vegas this April.

The same month saw The Glenlivet, the second best-selling malt in duty free, launch the first whisky in its own new travel retail-exclusive collection.

The cask-strength Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso is the first new permanent expression in the range and claimed to be the distillery’s first bottling exclusively in first-fill ex-oloroso sherry casks. The non-chill filtered whisky is priced at €55 (£45) for a 1-litre bottle and will be followed by two different Nàdurra expressions in September this year and in April 2015.

Speaking at the London launch of the Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso in April, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe marketing director Jenny Shipton spoke of her excitement at being able to launch an exclusive The Glenlivet expression into the fast-growing eastern European and Russian travel retail markets, where year-to-date sales of the brand were up 38%. In contrast, sales in western Europe were up a more workaday 6%.

“We are so excited about this new malt whisky joining our range,” she added. “You have to understand what’s happening in travel retail in Europe on a macro level. Passenger numbers are going up. If you look at December 2013 versus December 2012, we have a growth of 5.6%, which equates to 78 million passengers going through European airports.

“This is fantastic news to get The Glenlivet in front of those consumers. I am confident that this new The Glenlivet range is going to be a success.”

Since last June Diageo Global Travel & Middle East (GTME) has been focusing on two exclusive malt brands in travel retail: The Singleton Reserve Collection and Talisker Dark Storm, the smokiest expression ever from the Isle of Skye-produced whisky. The latter sold out on its first weekend launch activation at Heathrow despite Diageo GTME’s bullish forecast about its likely performance.

“We’ve seen very strong results from our malt whisky innovations during the short space of time they have been in the market,” says Steve White, Diageo GTME global marketing director.

“These launches fulfill our strategy of premiumising our malt whiskies and transforming the retail experience for travellers. We are investing in driving brand-led retail visibility and communication around both The Single Reserve Collection and Talisker Dark Storm.”

He goes on to say that, from November this year, Diageo will launch Mortlach, from the first distillery to be built in Speyside, as a standalone single malt. The Dufftown distillery, noted for its complex distillation process, has traditionally produced whiskies for Diageo’s many blends, but the global malt boom has forced a rethink about its future.

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