Duty-free retail continues to attract coveted Scotch whiskeys and set records

Earlier this month, at Dubai International Airport (DXB), a complete collection of The Macallan Six Pillars was sold to a private collector for a new record price of $816,748, the highest price ever paid. retail for the exclusive set.

The sale took place at Le Clos, 100% owned by Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), a subsidiary of the Emirates group. Le Clos is a luxury wine and spirits retailer whose expert buying teams select each product by hand.

According to whiskey intelligence agency Rare Whiskey 101, bottles of The Macallan have appreciated 35% over the past year. This latest sale of The Macallan Six Pillars saw a 68% increase on the previous record for a complete set, sold at Bonhams in 2017 for $485,244.

The set of six bottles is considered one of the rarest and most sought-after collections and comes in an exclusive series of limited-edition decanters made by French crystal house Lalique. Each is marketed as a work of art in its own right, containing some of the rarest single malt whiskeys in the world.

Whiskey has continued to appreciate during the pandemic as demand for rare and exclusive bottles appears to be strengthening. Hammer prices have fallen to the upper end of estimates for some products, Japanese whiskey in particular. In March 2020, Sotheby’s London set a new record of £363,000 ($445,435) for a bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask, well above the estimate range between £160,000 and £220,000. £.

In the airport channel, another popular Japanese brand, Yamazaki 55, was sold at Istanbul Airport for more than $500,000, after an even higher price was offered at the airport from Amsterdam Schiphol to the Netherlands in October 2021.

Le Clos airport stores are used to achieving record sales, as collectors know where to fly for the most exclusive bottles and collections. Managing Director Mike Glen said, “This latest sale continues our mission to retail the most sought-after bottles anywhere in the world.”

The operator of DXB, the busiest international airport in the world, will be delighted. As traffic picks up post-pandemic, this sale reaffirms the location’s credentials as a luxury retail hub for discerning travelers.

Hainan is building a name for luxury whiskey

The duty-free island province of Hainan in China is also beginning to carve out a similar niche. Although best known for their beauty sales, spirits brand owners now use the location as a showcase for some of their premium or limited edition liquids, for example The Dalmore Decades by Whyte & Mackay.

As part of an exclusive and strategic partnership with China Duty Free Group (CDFG), the main distributor on the island, Ian Macleod Distillers (IMD) has just released the oldest single cask scotch Tamdhu in its vintage series. Only 600 numbered bottles of the 18-year-old whiskey are available, priced at $650. CDFG Chairman Charles Chen said, “This exceptional sherry-matured product creates a new focus for whiskey connoisseurs and collectors in Asia.”

IMD’s Global Director of Travel Retail, William Ovens, said Forbes.com“This first fill 2003 vintage whiskey represents the quintessence of a Scotch matured in sherry casks. Tamdhu’s single casks have won many top awards in recent years and we’re sure this one will live up to it as well, as Tamdhu is doing well in the Chinese domestic market. It will be available at CDFG stores in Hainan and select airports in China.

Tamdhu Vintage 2003 is IMD’s first exclusive single cask for CDFG but follows the launch of the Glengoyne 53 Year Old, the oldest Glengoyne ever. Special launches have big appeal in China, and even with a slowing economy, brands expect demand to continue.

“The single malt has been a real success story in Asia-Pacific and is now growing rapidly in China,” Ovens said. “We know that Asian consumers are particularly interested in single malts in sherry casks. Tamdhu is unique among single malts in that it is the only one to exclusively mature all of its whiskeys in sherry casks. Chinese consumers are quickly gaining a good understanding of malts, and they know what elements of the proposition make one product stand out from another.

Christy J. Olson