The Travel Retail Masters 2013 Results

17th October, 2013 by Becky Paskin

With competition for shelf space supremely high, our entries in The Travel Retail Masters 2013 all put up a fight, Becky Paskin reports


With competition fierce in travel retail, brands must ensure the quality of their spirit is pristine

Travel retail is a fiercely competitive arena. Being privy to a consumer base with potentially long dwell times – particularly considering the number of flight delays and cancellations these days, the environment is an attractive option for spirit brands looking to expand their global presence.

As our readers will undoubtedly gather from our special TFWA Cannes issue (out now), producers are falling over themselves to secure distribution in travel retail, which is why brands need to ensure the quality of their product is pristine.

Nowhere is that notion underlined more than in The Spirits Business’ Travel Retail Masters 2013, which attracted a strong selection of brands from a variety of spirit categories, spanning vodka and gin to rum, Scotch and Tequila. We anticipated a diverse journey of a day ahead, fraught with leaps between starkly different spirit categories.

As such, we knew we needed an experienced panel of judges with knowledge of several categories. Joining me as chair of judges in the pretty private dining room at London bar The Folly, were Tobias Gorn, sales coordinator at The Whisky Shop, Pritesh Mody, founder of LFLD Amplified, and Mark Thomson, founder of The Spirits Bureau. We kicked off proceedings with vodka, which true to the theme of the day, contained a variety of styles that attracted six medals from the judges.

“It was good to see some character coming through in a category so widely criticised for being bland,” mused Mody, while Thomson added the range was impressive, “showing the traditional through to the more modern style”.

Two Masters were awarded to Purity Vodka and Tovaritch!, while Legend of Kremlin, Snow Queen, Flirt and Stoli grabbed Golds. Shifting into gin, and while our judges were disappointed not to see more representation from the category, they were blown away by one gin in particular, the only one to attract a medal. Others however, did raise questions as to how diverse the category is becoming.


Our judges remained on form despite jumping from category to category

“The gin category was diverse, as expected, although sometimes I feel being too diverse can be dangerous,” Thomson suggested. It’s not usual to step from gin into Tequila, but that we did and were pleasantly surprised. Two Masters were awarded here to Tequilas (Corralejo Silver and Reposado) that were “a pleasure to judge” and “a good standard of sipping liquid”.

Mody enthused: “These really show how far Tequila has come.” After a short break to refresh the palate, we returned to the table to embrace the rather large single malt Scotch category, one our whisky enthusiasts were eager to get cracking on. It was disappointing then not to see the exceptionally high quality we have come to expect from single malt Scotch in competitions such as our Scotch Whisky Masters.

While there wasn’t a bad whisky among the bunch, in an environment such as travel retail where exclusivity and quality mean everything, a sizeable hole was left by a lack of impression.

Those that did win a medal, and to be fair it was the majority of the entries, did so because they were balanced with good flavours and a decent finish. But for our largest category of the day, we had expected more Masters to be awarded; the Scotches walked away with just two for Glenmorangie Signet and Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask.


Pritesh Mody, founder of LFLD Amplified; Becky Paskin, The Spirits Business; Tobias Gorn, sales coordinator of The Whisky Shop; Mark Thomson, founder of The Spirits Bureau

“Sometimes people try to be a little too clever when they create whisky,” Thomson reflected. “Simple, well-made whisky showed through in the line-up today.” The competition took a turn for the better when we started on the travel retail exclusive Scotches – two Masters and two Golds were awarded for four editions new to the travel retail arena this year.

Following Scotch was an equally impressive round of Cognacs, which along with one travel retail exclusive garnered two Golds and a Silver medal. While a lovely selection were presented, a couple were deemed slightly too young. The rum round didn’t disappoint either, and two Golds winged their way to Brugal XV Gran Reserva and Brugal Anejo.

Click through the following pages to see the results of The Travel Retail Masters 2013.

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