The Global Travel Retail Masters 2015 results

14th October, 2015 by Annie Hayes

With competition never fiercer among spirits brands in the hotly competitive travel retail sector, our Global Travel Retail Spirits Masters highlighted the top performers.

The-Global-Travel-Retail-Masters-2015-results

The Global Travel Retail Masters recognised outstanding quality among products available in the industry’s “sixth continent”

Luxury expressions, exclusive variants and unique campaigns – more spirits brands than ever are beginning to comprehend the value of the travel retail channel, and the drive to give international passengers something new and unexpected has made for a fascinating marketplace as a result.

The latest International Wine & Spirits Research (IWSR) figures show that sales of spirits and wine grew by 7.7% to almost US$9 billion (£5.9bn) in travel retail alone during 2014. This rise was driven by markets in Africa and the Middle East and anchored by Europe, the largest of all, which claims 52% of the travel retail spirits market. And although overall growth is slowing, the category is still demonstrating notable innovations and striking market exclusives.

Tasked with assessing products from the “sixth continent” were Sam MacDonald, venue manager at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, where our Masters was hosted; Nagesh Balusu, manager of Salt whisky bar; Tobias Gorn, director of Chapman and Gorn; Nicola Thomson, member of the Company of Musketeers and founder of the 1571 organisation; and chair Kristiane Sherry, editor of The Spirits Business. The first flight to be judged was Vodka, split into two individual sections: products exclusively available in travel retail, and products also available in wider markets. In total the round saw brands take home four Gold medals, four Silver medals and a Master accolade, indicative of the success premium vodka expressions such as these have experienced within travel retail.

Gold winners Sash&Fritz, Legend of Kremlin, Sauvelle Vodka, and two Purity Vodka expressions were recognised for their profiles – “stylistically different, but quite together in high quality” – but the showstopper of the flight was Grey Goose by Ducasse, which dazzled judges with its “buttery, smooth mouthfeel”.

Judges

Our judges were tasked with assessing the multitude of spirits categories available in travel retail markets

Thomson said: “There was a great range which really hit the flavour spectrum for vodka, but Grey Goose by Ducasse really stood out – a fantastically rounded vodka with great texture and a balance of spiciness. An absolute pleasure to sip.”

The spirits switched to Gin, of which there was just one entry: Vinprom Peshtera’s Sense Gin. Although judges lamented the small nature of the flight, which they labelled as “befitting” of gin’s travel retail footprint, they praised the qualities of the “citrusy” variant, and awarded a Gold medal to reflect this.

Balusu said: “I quite like it – it’s

different to the rest of the gin market. It would be great in a G&T with an orange peel garnish.”

The next set of flights took a detour to darker spirits, beginning with Single Malt Scotch Whisky – again split into products exclusively available in travel retail, followed by products also available in wider markets.

Single malt Scotch has been leading the travel retail market as of late, and has grown considerably thanks to interest in premiumisation and demand for exclusivity. In total two Gold medals were awarded to Glenmorangie Signet – reminiscent of “dark chocolate” and “sweet plums” – and Glenmorangie Duthac, a “tropical fruit with honey” variant, while three Silvers went to Highland Park Sven, Highland Park Harald, and Tomintoul Five Decades. MacDonald noted: “All had accessible, pleasant nuances – some with hidden depths.”

Next to be tasted was a solitary World Whisky flight of Gold Ram Whisky, which was deemed “perfect for cocktails” and attracted a Silver medal.

Of the flight, Sherry observed: “There are many synergies between world whisky and travel retail, so it would be good to see more come through.”

Judges-2

Judge (eft to right): Nicola Thomson, Sam MacDonald, Kristiane Sherry, Nagesh Balusu and Tobias Gorn

The penultimate tasting round came to a close with Liqueurs – a category that has seen leading brands access the travel retail market with new focus, mostly due to the growing consumer interest in making cocktails at home. Judges began with non-exclusive expressions, awarding two Silver medals to Schwartzhog and Original Danziger Goldwasser. “I would love to see more and more liqueurs in travel retail. It’s like a clean slate,” said Gorn. Balusu agreed: “It’s not a commercialised category, not mass produced… These expressions offer something different.” In the Travel Retail Exclusive flight, judges awarded a Silver medal to the “sweet yet well balanced” Metaxa Greek Honey.

The final flight of spirits, New Launches 2015, beckoned the newest variants to grace the travel retail landscape. Launching a spirit in any market is no mean feat, so it was encouraging to witness two Silver medals awarded to vodka brand Sash&Fritz, and liqueur brand Miamee Orange, respectively. Thomson said: “It’s great to see producers trying to innovate.”

With new products vying for shelf space, it was wont that judges would next investigate the matter of Design and Packaging. Three Gold medals were awarded, firstly to Purity Vodka for it’s “striking” multi-faceted bottle, and also to Miamee Rouge and Miamee Orange for their “innovative” designs, which featured a hidden cocktail menu and embossed glass.

Rounding off the day judges tackled the Point of Sale Campaign, which saw John Dewar & Sons Fine Whisky Emporium receive a Master for its “striking, innovative and interactive” activations across the globe – which aims to recreate the original Dewar’s wine and spirits merchants’ store with traditional-style wooden display cabinets and flooring.

Looking back over the course of the day, Sherry noted: “Travel retail is such a dynamic space for liquor brands – and this was reflected in the diverse range of products here. I’m excited to see how the category will continue to evolve over the coming months and years.”

Click through to the following page for the complete list of medal winners from The Global Travel Retail Masters 2015. 

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