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Bowmore to release travel retail (very) exclusive

Morrison Bowmore will launch its most expensive bottle of whisky next March to commemorate the opening of the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. The release is a single 1965 first fill hogshead cask, selected by the World Duty Free buying team, which will retail for "at least £6,000".

The cask was chosen from among the finest 1965 barrels laying in the Islay distiller’s number One Vault by World Duty Free managing director Mark Riches, commercial director Jo O’Connor and liquor buyer Paul Hunnisett. Having picked the winning cask yesterday, Riches commented "This is an absolutely unique product… a drop of this will go a long way to making the job of opening T5 seem a lot more manageable".

WDF, which operates most travel retail concessions at UK airports, currently has a single malt business worth approximately £20m. The company is aiming to push back the boundaries of retailing with the long-awaited opening of T5 in March, and Riches explains that this initiative is indicative of the innovative and unique offer that is being developed. According to Bowmore global sales director Fergus Hartley "World Duty Fee have a real passion for single malt – you can see it in their stores and the people working there. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with people like that."

Bowmore has a strong position within the travel retail sector, with upwards of one third of total sales being generated in the channel. Earlier this year the Suntory-owned company rationalised its once rather cumbersome range. As part of this project, it created a range of four whiskies exclusively for sale in travel retail outlets – the first time that a whisky brand has made such a strong commitment to the channel.

The cask selection is clearly indicative of the excellent relationship between supplier and retailer, and db can report that a number of further initiatives are under discussion – including the possibility of enabling consumers to bottle their own whisky from the cask instore. 

Ben Grant, 31.10.07

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