Top 10 award-winning travel retail spirits
Next time you’re wandering through duty free, keep your eyes peeled for these top-rated spirits – trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Travel Retail presents two key opportunities: first, the chance to purchase your favourite products, potentially with a duty-free discount. Second, it’s a chance to discover limited edition offerings.
Our annual Travel Retail Masters blind tasting assessed spirits across myriad categories, including vodka, gin, Scotch whisky and rum.
A panel of experts gathered at the Novotel Hotel in London Bridge earlier this year 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.
Below, we’ve compiled a selection of 10 award-winning entries we recommend you look out for the next time you find yourself in duty free.
Glenmorangie The Tribute
Highland Scotch whisky distillery Glenmorangie took home the top accolade for its 16-year-old The Tribute bottling. The lightly peated whisky won high praise from the judges with notes of “sticky toffee” on the palate and an overall “nice mouthfeel and good balance”.
Aged in Bourbon casks and blended with Glenmorangie’s signature spirit, the whisky sits at 43% ABV.
The opening round of The Travel Retail Masters 2022 delivered a much-deserved Gold medal to Ceder’s Classic. Awarded in the Low & No-Alcohol heat, Ceder’s Classic was celebrated for its “bright citrus notes and botanical notes” that would “mix very well”.
We imagine this would be quite the refreshing alcohol-free option with some tonic water and a slice of lemon – delicious.
Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020
Proving vodka is anything but flavourless is Gold-winning Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020. The nose is clean and light, leading 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 vodka is distilled in 200-litre copper stills and undergoes a single distillation, before being bottled at 40% ABV.
Remarkable Regional Malts Miniature Gift Pack
Anyone who has perused the shelves in duty free knows the gifting potential that awaits. For those with limited room in their luggage, or simply unsure about which single bottle to buy, Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts Miniature Gift Pack is a great option. The judges not only thought the liquid of each expression was delicious, but took the drinker on a journey across Scotland.
Unsurprisingly, the gift pack secured a Master medal. “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.” How many can you fit in your case?
Rum lovers, be sure to make a stop if you spot Equiano Original on your travels. The Master-winning – and Travel Retail Taste Master-winning – rum was lauded for its “nice complexity and fruitiness, woody, nutty and fragrant, with a balanced sweetness”. “This had fantastic flavour for 43% ABV,” Smith said.
The rum is the world’s first African and Caribbean blend, made from two distilleries. The rum benefits from maturation in ex-Bourbon and ex-Cognac casks, which deliver its award-winning flavours.
When you see the tasting notes attributed to Camus XO, you’ll see why this Gold-winning Cognac made a lasting impression on the judges. “Buttery shortbread aroma, raisins and fresh tobacco; delicious caramel sweetness, leading to raisins, gentle spice and great balance on the palate.”
Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin
In the Gin contingent of the competition, a Master medal was awarded to Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin. Compliments were given to the gin’s “bright citrus nose with gentle elderflower”, leading to “juniper and citrus” on the palate.
Crafted from a mix of 18 botanicals, including Linden blossom, this gin sits at 41.7% ABV.
Green Man Wildwood Gin
With its bold juniper aroma, the judges also applauded Green Man Wildwood Gin – so much so, the Silent Pool Distillers-made entry secured a Master medal. The palate brought “citrus flavours and botanical sweetness”, to complement the “bright, fresh and zesty” aromas on the nose.
Plus, this bottling has the sustainable credentials to boot – did you know it was the world’s first spirit packaged in a cardboard bottle? Made from 94% recycled paper, the Frugalpac bottle uses 77% less plastic, is 80% lighter and has a carbon footprint 83% lower than a glass bottle. If that’s not persuasion enough, it’s also 100% recyclable once you’ve enjoyed the liquid inside.
Don’t be put off by the higher ABV of this award-winning rum because we can attest that everything in the bottle is absolutely delicious. Yes, it sits at 69% ABV, but that means all the more flavour to be enjoyed with Takamaka Overproof.
Hailing from the Seychelles, this rum scored a Gold medal with our judges for offering “some lovely grass, fruit and coconut notes”, and “a lot of power” on the palate – perfect for mixing.
Ron Carúpano 21 Reserva Privada
“Hints of caramel, coffee ice cream, and a touch of amaretto on the finish” helped Ron Carúpano 21 Reserva Privada win a Gold medal in the blind-tasting competition.
The rum is aged in white American oak barrels for 21 years, before being bottled at 40% ABV.