Meeting of masters: The Glenlivet Master Distiller Alan Winchester presents Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm Mcloughlin with one of the 35yo special editions to mark the retailer’s 35th anniversary.

“It’s a chance to celebrate a success story in travel retail. Dubai Duty Free is such a great showcase for brands among travellers. It’s an important window for us.” That was the reaction of The Glenlivet Master Distiller Alan Winchester, speaking about the release of a limited edition 35yo version of the single malt to mark Dubai Duty Free’s 35th anniversary on 20 December.

As reported, just 35 bottles of the new expression – the first 35yo from The Glenlivet – have been made available, all at Dubai Duty Free, as the world’s leading travel retailer at a single location marked its anniversary milestone last month.

Each bottle is individually numbered and packaged in a handmade wooden box marked ‘Dubai Duty Free Exclusive’ and each pack contains a signed letter from Winchester. The whisky is priced at US$10,000 a bottle.

Marking a milestone: Senior management from Dubai Duty Free and The Glenlivet with the limited edition on 20 December.

Speaking to us from Dubai International on anniversary day, Winchester had just made a presentation of one bottle to Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin, and seen several others sold.

Winchester said: “We enjoy working with Dubai Duty Free. Like us they are always looking for new and innovative ideas. And like The Glenlivet they have strong roots and great traditions. We were seeking to do something special so we took a look at our stocks and found some 35yo that was a good fit.”

He said that the 35yo cask was chosen for its “rich character and exceptional quality” as the brand owner honoured “the special relationship” with the retailer. He said the “unhurried maturation” adds complexity to the liquid’s flavour, resulting in a “beautifully balanced” whisky.

The edition is the first time that The Glenlivet has released a 35yo bottling.

Crucially the limited edition delivers a ‘halo effect’ for the core offer, Winchester added. “Travel retail gives us a chance to release exclusive versions just for travellers, like Master Distillers Reserve or our single cask editions, which we launched recently. It gives us something different, although these sit very much within the family through our signature floral taste. It enables us to speak to customers in new ways and through tastings, things you cannot do in every environment. It adds excitement, something we are seeing today [20 December] as Dubai Duty Free celebrates its anniversary.”

Alan Winchester: “Travel retail enables us to speak to customers in new ways.”

Winchester added that The Glenlivet is playing its part in attracting new consumers to the category. “When we launched The Glenlivet Nàdurra (Oloroso) a few years ago, it showed just what we could do with sherry casks and what skills we have in maturation. We have since done much more with European oak in particular, with the recent Cognac Reserve a good example. It shows that we can innovate and engage new consumers with different expressions.

“And that is important. Our customers are not slow to tell us what they want, and how they like The Glenlivet. The challenge now is to be true to The Glenlivet style and to continue innovating. The market in single malts may be crowded but it is dynamic and it is growing.”