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The Travel Retail Masters 2014 results

The exciting, high-tempo travel retail market has forged some fantastic spirits that left our judges at The Spirits Business’ Travel Retail Masters no less than very impressed.

The great and the good of the spirits world were recognised in our Travel Retail Masters 2014

The allure of travel retail buying simply cannot compare to any other market space. With a plethora of exclusive, high-end products vying for shelf space nowadays, travel retail outlets have matured into coveted global platforms for brands to showcase some of their best liquids.

It’s a growth that was recognised at The Spirits Business Travel Retail Masters 2014, which attracted a record number of entries encompassing brands within a variety of spirits categories, from vodka and gin to rum and Tequila.

Hosted at Drake & Morgan’s most recent London opening, The Fable, the judges consisted of Tom Aske, co-founder of Fluid Movement; Sandro Lhys, assistant bar manager at Harvey Nichols OXO Tower; Eugene Bacot, founder of Voice PR and former drinks journalist; Adam McCulloch bar manager of The Cadogan Arms; Tobias Gorn, director of Chapman and Gorn; and Becky Paskin, editor of The Spirits Business, who chaired the judging group. Leading the tastings and setting the standard on the day was Vodka, which scooped seven awards.

“It’s interesting that judging within the vodka category has changed and people are clearly looking to get more character from the spirit, rather than a vodka that’s odourless and tasteless,” commented Aske. “Flavour and character is prominent across the board; at least 50% of those vodkas had clearly discernable aromas and flavours.”

One Master was awarded to Purity Vodka (40% abv), while Snow Queen Vodka, Tovaritch!, Stolichnaya Vodka Elit and Purity Vodka (43% abv) took home Golds.

Moving on to Vodka Travel Retail Exclusive, while there may have only been one entry into the category it did little to deter the judges’ high expectations. Proving that exclusivity and quality go hand in hand, Smirnoff White was awarded a Gold medal.

As the spirits switched to Gin, the flight proved itself to be a mighty medal contender, accumulating one Master for The Botanist and a Gold for Caorunn, which was a “good example of why not all gins need to be juniper-led”, according to McCulloch. “It’s pleasant for a Martini or gin and tonic, but it would be lost in a Negroni,” he added.

Progressing onto darker spirits, next up was Tequila. The top accolade of a Master was bestowed upon Tequila Corralejo 99,000 Horas Añejo, due to its “sweet vanilla oakiness with fresh agave, with a hint of tobacco and liquorice”, which made for a “well-rounded spirit”.

Eugene Bacot and Tom Aske sample an array of whiskies presented at our recent Travel Retail Masters 2014

Towing the line was the Cognac category, which saw Courvoisier Extravagance also walk away with a Master medal to its name. “It’s very well balanced with plenty of flavours going on,” said Fluid Movement’s Aske. “It delivers on the palate exactly what it delivers on the nose.”

Edging into the wide world of whisky, first to tantalise our judges’ palates was Bourbon and a solid silver for Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Old. Just one whisky hailing from South Africa was included in our World Whisky category, Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old, which despite its young age grabbed a Master. “This was a very pleasant whisky demonstrating the quality South African distilleries can achieve in whisky,” remarked Paskin.

Among the premium blended Scotches, there were one or two that left the panel feeling a little underwhelmed. Nonetheless three Golds were procured for The Naked Grouse, The Black Grouse and The Black Grouse Alpha, plus a Silver for Black Bottle, about which Aske said: “I would gladly drink it if I was given a dram in an airport.”

The Premium Single Malt Scotch whiskies produced an eclectic selection of flavour profiles such as nori and seaweed, unusual to the category but worthy of four medals including a Gold for Tomintoul 16 Year Old.

As the judges ventured on to Super-Premium Single Malt Scotch, an excitable energy trickled into the room. From no-age-statements to peated styles, the round heralded high praise for being “the best category so far in the competition”. Hardly surprising then that two Masters were given to Bruichladdich Octomore 6.2 and Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC11, plus a further two Golds for Glenmorangie Dornoch and Glenmorangie Signet.

“It shows that, being no-age-statement, age isn’t necessarily a sign of quality in this instance,” observed Gorn.

And with that, the standard of Scotch on offer continued to climb as the Single Malt Scotch Travel Retail Exclusives took their turn. With a mixture of complex and simple flavours ranging from subtle smoke and spicy notes to raisins, chocolate and orange, no fewer than 10 medals were delegated to the entries, including a multitude of Masters for Laphroaig Au Cuan Mor, Bunnahabhain Erigh Na Greine and Glengoyne The First Fill 25 Years Single Highland Malt.

Judges from left to right: Sandro Lhys of OXO Tower, Tom Aske of Fluid Movement, Becky Paskin of The Spirits Business, Adam McCulloch of The Cadogan Arms, Eugene Bacot of Voice PR, and Tobias Gorn of Chapman and Gorn

“A key thing in this round is the variety of characteristics on show, but the most important thing is that everything on show is of exceptional quality,” noted Aske. “The flavours varied, which made it extremely hard to judge, but it demonstrates the versatility of the Scotch industry to produce a range of flavours and styles.”

Rounding off the Scotch whiskies were the Ultra Premiums, which excelled in the competition. Two Masters were awarded for Bruichladdich Black Art 4.1 with its “heavy character” and Glengoyne The First Fill 25 Years Single Highland Malt for its “exceptional complexity” spearheaded by sweet fruits, raisins and dates.

“As expected, they were exceptional,” commented Lhys. “They were slightly different styles, but there was no disappointment in this category.”

The day’s tastings concluded with Liqueurs, which generated a mixed bag of reactions. While one disappointed with its watery appearance and “confusing” aroma, it was a Master for Mozart Chocolate Cream and its “authentic, multidimensional” flavour.

The judges then diverted their attention to the matter of Design and Packaging. Shelf stand out is highly important, particularly on the overcrowded duty free shelf, so it was encouraging to see three Masters, two Golds and two Silvers awarded.

Last to find itself in the hot seat was the Point of Sale Campaign, which saw Jim Beam receive a Master, particularly for its striking, innovative and interactive activations.

Looking back over the course of the day, McCulloch reflected: “Travel Retail is an exclusive market with higher-end products worth people’s time for that long-haul flight. It is still clearly a market full of diverse, high quality products, which was shown today through the extensive range of awards.”

Click through the following pages to see the results of The Travel Retail Masters 2014.

Company Product Name Award
Purity Vodka Purity Vodka (40%) Master
Calibre Brands Snow Queen Vodka Gold
Tovaritch & Spirits International Tovaritch! Gold
SPI Group Stolichnaya Vodka Elit Gold
Purity Vodka Purity Vodka (43%) Gold
Diageo Smirnoff White Silver
Fraternity Spirits Boker Vodka Silver
Travel Retail Exclusive Vodka
Company Product Name Award
Diageo Smirnoff White Gold
Company Product Name Award
Bruichladdich Distillery Co The Botanist Master
Inver House Distillers Caorunn Gin Gold
Company Product Name Award
Fraternity Spirits Tequila Corralejo 99,000 Horas Añejo Master
Company Product Name Award
Beam Suntory Courvoisier Extravagance Master
Company Product Name Award
Beam Suntory Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Year Old Silver
World Whisky
Company Product Name Award
Distell Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old Master
Premium Blended Scotch Whisky
Company Product Name Award
Highland Distillers The Naked Grouse Gold
Highland Distillers The Black Grouse Gold
Highland Distillers The Black Grouse Alpha Gold
Burn Stewart Distillers Black Bottle Silver
Premium Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Company Product Name Award
Angus Dundee Distillers Tomintoul 16 Year Old Gold
Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine Silver
Bruichladdich Distillery Co Bere Barley 2006 Silver
Bruichladdich Distillery Co The Organic Scottish Barley Silver
Super-Premium Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Company Product Name Award
Bruichladdich Distillery Co Octomore 6.2 Master
Bruichladdich Distillery Co Port Charlotte PC11 Master
The Glenmorangie Company Glenmorangie Dornoch Gold
The Glenmorangie Company Glenmorangie Signet Gold
Single Malt Travel Retail Exclusive
Company Product Name Award
Beam Suntory Laphroaig An Cuan Mor Master
Burn Stewart Distillers Bunnahabhain Erigh Na Greine Master
Ian Macleod Distillers Glengoyne The First Fill 25 Year Old Master
Beam Suntory Laphroaig QA Cask Gold
William Grant & Sons Glenfiddich Cask Collection Range Gold
William Grant & Sons Glenfiddich Cask Collection Range Gold
Bacardi Global Travel Retail Glen Deveron 20 Year Old Gold
William Grant & Sons Glenfiddich Cask Collection Range Silver
Morrison Bowmore Auchentoshan Heartwood Silver
Morrison Bowmore Auchentoshan Springwood Silver
Ultra-Premium Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Company Product Name Award
Bruichladdich Distillery Co Black Art 4.1 Master
Ian Macleod Distillers Glengoyne The First Fill 25 Year Old Master
Company Product Name Award
Mozart Distillerie Mozart Chocolate Cream Master
Travel Retail Design and Packaging
Company Product Name Award
Bacardi Grey Goose VX Master
Bacardi Aberfeldy 18 Year Old Master
Soyuzprodexport Legend of Kremlin Master
U’Luvka U’Luvka Vodka Gold
Ian Macleod Distillers Glengoyne The First Fill 25 Year Old Gold
Burn Stewart Distillers Bunnahabhain Erigh Na Greine Silver
Beam Suntory Courvoisier Extravagance Silver
Travel Retail Point of Sale Campaign
Company Product Name Award
Beam Suntory Jim Beam Master


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