The Travel Retail Masters 2022 results
As international journeys become more commonplace again, our panel of judges put the most special offerings from global travel retail to the test in SB’s annual competition, with impressive results.
This year feels like the first one in which travel has been possible since Covid‐19 brought the sector to a screeching halt in 2020. From brand activations and new product launches to international trade shows and high‐end boutiques, the global travel retail (GTR) channel is back in action, and there is much to explore.
The reopening of travel retail is not without its challenges. However, the channel continues to provide a truly international shop window for travellers – and brands are chomping at the bit to get their products noticed.
New launches this year span everything from the Secret Speyside Scotch whisky line from Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail and the oldest bottling from Tamdhu to the travel retail debut of the Tales of The Macallan Volume I, The Laird of Ester Elchies (1659‐1715) in the brand’s GTR boutiques.
But as brands vie for shelf space, does the quality of those products already available in the channel suffice? To answer this question, a panel of experts gathered at the Novotel Hotel in London Bridge to judge The Travel Retail Masters 2022.
The judges comprised: Bernadette Pamplin, freelance drinks writer, and founder of the Under the Ginfluence blog; David T Smith, spirits consultant, writer and co‐founder of the Craft Distilling Expo; Herchelle Perez Terrado, director of Drinks Partnership; and Dimple Athavia, founder of All Things Drinks. The panel was led by Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business magazine, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions.
In the opening Low & No‐Alcohol heat, Ceder’s Classic showed its Gold credentials with its “bright citrus notes and botanical notes” that would “mix very well”.
Moving onto the Vodka flight, a Gold medal was bestowed upon Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020. The judges enjoyed its “very clean nose” and picked out flavours akin to “cake batter, with a spicy finish”.
Athavia said: “I liked the palate, it was smooth and delicious – reminiscent of sake distillate. You could make a nice long drink with those flavours.”
The judges then took on a flight of gin, awarding two Master medals. The first went to Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin, celebrated for its “bright citrus nose with gentle elderflower”, which led to prominent notes of “juniper and citrus” on the palate. “Very well made, the nose jumps out of the glass,” the judges enthused.
Green Man Wildwood Gin also secured the top Master award after impressing the panel with its “very classic juniper‐led nose, bright, fresh and zesty”. On the palate, “citrus flavours and botanical sweetness” left a lasting impression.
A pair of Gold medals was also enjoyed in this round. Bulldog Gin gained a Gold award for being “juniper‐forward, lovely and complex”. Silent Pool Gin also garnered a Gold medal for its “light lemon aroma and herbaceous flavours”. Two Silver medals were awarded to Sir Edmond Gin and Nordés.
Pamplin was pleased to see two Masters in the flight: “You want something a bit more special and high quality in travel retail, and that’s exactly what you got with the Master medals.”
Perez Terrado added: “This selection explored the facets that gin can bring to travel retail, from the classic juniper‐led gins to sweet, ripe fruits. That’s offering the customer some diversity at least, and not just ‘same same’. That can often happen with gin; this shows that gin is still winning.”
Cognac Camus XO collected a Gold medal in the Cognac heat. It impressed the panel with its “buttery shortbread aroma” complemented by “raisins and fresh tobacco”. The palate brought “delicious caramel sweetness, leading to raisins, gentle spice and great balance”.
The biggest flight of the competition was Scotch Whisky, which presented a medley of blended whiskies, blended malts, and single malt bottlings. Three more Master medals were celebrated in this heat. Glen Grant 10 Years Old was one of the Master recipients.
Athavia raved about this whisky’s “tropical, fresh juicy character”, while Smith hailed how “accessible” the whisky would be to a spectrum of drinkers. Glenmorangie The Tribute also secured a Master medal, with notes of “sticky toffee” on the palate and overall a “nice mouthfeel and good balance”.
Douglas Laing & Co entered its Remarkable Regional Malts Miniature Gift Pack into the tasting, which the judges agreed took the drinker on a journey across Scotland. Hugely impressed by the gift pack, a Master medal was awarded to the group of miniatures.
“The experience, the variation of whiskies, to even be able to have that in your portfolio, was very good,” enthused Athavia. “There was consistent quality across the board.”
Douglas Laing & Co also scooped a Gold medal for The Gauldrons Global Traveller’s Edition. The whisky presented aromas of “light smoke and apricot”, leading to “vanilla, a touch of white pepper heat, and a long finish”.
Two Golds were awarded to whiskies from The Glenmorangie Company. Gold‐winning Glenmorangie The Elementa was enjoyed for its “quite oily palate”. The judges found notes of “brioche, woodiness, and gentle warming spice”.
Glenmorangie The Accord was also accepted into the Gold ranks. The whisky was praised for being “deep, rich and full‐bodied”, with flavours of “medjool dates, baking spices and a little gingerbread”.
Smoke and Sherry
In addition, Johnnie Walker Island Green won a Gold medal for its “rich oily intensity” and hints of “smoke and Sherry”. Gold medallist Talisker Dark Storm also secured a Gold medal for delivering notes of “light smoke, orchard fruits and caramel sweetness”.
Completing the Gold haul in this flight was Glen Grant 12 Years Old, which was enjoyed for aromas of “light smoke and tarte Tatin” on the nose. When sipped the whisky offered “a nice mix of fruitiness, apples, raisins and gentle spice”. Two Silvers concluded the flight: Johnnie Walker Triple Cask, and Talisker Surge.
Athavia noted about the flight: “It was interesting to see lots of blended malts, and really interesting to see a lot of peat and smoky characters coming through.”
Perez Terrado was also impressed. “I was surprised by the ‘entry‐level’ whiskies. The 10‐year‐old blended malt was giving some of the others a run for their money. And, actually, as a style of whisky, it shouldn’t be dismissed. Blended malts aren’t as well known, but there are opportunities to be explored there.”
In the World Whisky contingent, a Gold medal was awarded to Maison Villevert’s Talbert Celtic Whisky, a blend of whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. Tasting notes included ”slight biscuit notes, peppery spice and dried fruits”. Bulgarian brand Black Ram gained a Silver in this round.
The final heat of the day, Rum, presented the final Master medallist: Equiano Original. The rum was lauded for its “nice complexity and fruitiness, woody, nutty and fragrant, with a balanced sweetness”. “This had fantastic flavour for 43% ABV,” said Smith. Stablemate Equiano Light secured a Gold medal, liked for its “bright fruity notes on the palate – papaya, pineapple and a touch of Demerera sugar”.
Gold‐winning Takamaka Overproof had “a lot of power” on the palate, with “some lovely grass, fruit and coconut notes”. Two Ron Carúpano bottlings also received Gold medals. Ron Carúpano 21 Reserva Privada picked up a Gold medal for hints of caramel, coffee ice cream, and a touch of amaretto on the finish”.
Meanwhile, Gold‐winning Ron Carúpano 18 Reserva Limitada offered “good balance”, making it “ideal for sipping or mixing”. Santa Teresa 1796 brought the initial tasting round to a close with a solid Silver medal.
The Master winners were then poured again and sampled by the judges to determine which product was most deserving of the Travel Retail Taste Master title. This title is particularly tricky to decide, given the vast assortment of products up for consideration. However, the judges agreed that the ‘best in class’ award should go to “really complex” Equiano Original.
The panel said this year’s entries provided much to be excited about as travel returns. Next time you find yourself at the airport or on board a cruise ship, these impressive medal winners are well worth exploring.
Low & No‐Alcohol
|Pernod Ricard France||Ceder’s Classic||Gold|
|Royal Mash||Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020||Gold|
|Rheinland Distillers||Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin||Master|
|Silent Pool Distillers||Green Man Wildwood Gin||Master|
|Campari Group||Bulldog Gin||Gold|
|Silent Pool Distillers||Silent Pool Gin||Gold|
|Sir Edmond||Sir Edmond Gin||Silver|
|Camus La Grande Marque||Camus XO||Gold|
|Campari Group||Glen Grant 10 Years Old||Master|
|The Glenmorangie Company||Glenmorangie The Tribute||Master|
|Douglas Laing & Co||Remarkable Regional Malts Miniature Gift Pack||Master|
|The Glenmorangie Company||Glenmorangie The Elementa||Gold|
|The Glenmorangie Company||Glenmorangie The Accord||Gold|
|Diageo||Johnnie Walker Island Green||Gold|
|Diageo||Talisker Dark Storm||Gold|
|Campari Group||Glen Grant 12 Years Old||Gold|
|Douglas Laing & Co||The Gauldrons Global Traveller’s Edition||Gold|
|Diageo||Johnnie Walker Triple Cask||Silver|
|Maison Villevert||Talbert Celtic Whisky||Gold|
|VP Brands International||Black Ram||Silver|
|The Equiano Rum Co||Equiano Original||Master & Taste Master|
|The Equiano Rum Co||Equiano Light||Gold|
|Ron Carúpano||Ron Carúpano 21 Reserva Privada||Gold|
|Ron Carúpano||Ron Carúpano 18 Reserva Limitada||Gold|
|Ron Santa Teresa||Santa Teresa 1796||Silver|