Standard Macallan Bottles Not Available in Duty Free

Macallan 1824 Travel Retail CollectionWhen I visited Macallan in Craigellachie (we stayed at the Lynwood B&B, which is literally a minute away from Macallan and run by the most lovely and inviting of people), I really wanted to pick up a bottle of the sherry oak Macallan 18. I didn’t only because we figured we could buy it in the duty free shop at Heathrow and, since we still had a week left in our European Vacation, I didn’t want to carry around a bottle all the time (for weight and fearing that I’d break it!).

Unfortunately, the duty free shop at Heathrow doesn’t carry any of the standard bottles of The Macallan. Much like how The Macallan Elegancia was created for duty free and travel retail outlets, all of the Macallans at Heathrow (and I suspect elsewhere) had special names and lacked an age statement!

As it turns out, they announced on July 21st, 2009 (we started our trip before the announcement!) that they were launching The 1824 Collection specifically for the Global Travel Retail market! There are four expressions: The Macallan Select Oak, Whisky Maker’s Edition, the Estate Reserve, and the 1824 Limited Release.

While Macallan has spun this as a exclusive offer available only in duty free, maybe they did this so that you couldn’t just wait to buy the sherry oak or fine oak Macallans on the cheap in duty free. 🙂

The Glenlivet XXV vs. The Glenlivet 21

I’m a huge fan of Glenlivet, one of the reasons why I visited them only a week ago near Tomintoul, Scotland. The tour of their distillery was a lot of fun, more on that later, but my real treat of Glenlivet wasn’t until I visited the World Duty Free store in Heathrow Airport. I visited the store, which you can’t possibly miss, last year after a trip to England and picked up quite a few bottles of Scotch, many of which still sit on my shelves, and this time I wanted to get some more.

I started talking to one of the salespeople and we got to discussing The Glenlivet. I told him about how I had visited the distillery, something he wanted to do, and I told him I enjoyed the 18 when he asked if I was interested in trying out the XXV. I had been looking at their taster’s try earlier and didn’t really see anything I wanted to try (mostly younger maturities of brands I was already familiar with), so I was surprised when he opened up the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of the XXV.

Glenlivet XXV

Glenlivet XXV

The >Glenlivet XXV was silky smooth and spicy, reminiscent of their 18. You could tell it was finished in sherry casks because it had a definite sweetness. The tasting notes say it has raisins with a floral nose but I was lost in the nutty spiciness. Overall, it was a fantastic dram and what you would expect with a bottle priced at £175.00 retail. This would rank as the second most expensive dram I’ve ever sampled, second only to the Macallan Fine Oak 30 year, priced at £321 at the Macallan Distillery.

I enjoy scotch but the thought of spending £143, or about $236, on a single bottle was a bit much. I’m not against spending money for quality, but I don’t think I have the ability to truly appreciate and enjoy scotch of that caliber. With that being said, I think my money is better spent buying three or four bottles of more affordable scotch.

Glenlivet Archive 21 Year

Glenlivet Archive 21 Year

That’s when I took a look at The Glenlivet 21, which was a fraction of the price (£68.99 retail). The salesperson surprised me even more when he said that he has the 21 too, pulling it out from the secret compartment to let me try a bit. I enjoyed the 21 a lot, it lacked the spicy finish of the XXV and the nose had a lot more fruit and cinnamon. I’m glad I tried it because otherwise I would never have bought it! £68.99 (it was much less in duty-free) is a lot to spend on a brand you like when you don’t know what the scotch will be like, £68.99 is not a lot for a 21 year old scotch you know you’ll enjoy.

The real lesson here is that you should try before you buy and try it in duty free for free. 🙂