TURKEY. Unifree Duty Free and its joint venture partner Gebr. Heinemann have sold a bottle of rare The Yamazaki 55 Year Old whisky for €488,000 (US$559,200) at Istanbul Airport.

The Japanese whisky, part of the Beam Suntory portfolio, was launched at the airport in December with a special promotional staging. Due to the exceptionally limited nature of the release, customers were invited to place bids to have a chance to purchase the bottle. Eight people duly submitted valid offers, with a Chinese shopper ultimately winning out.

What a way to banish the Omicron blues and to boost your average transaction value. The oldest single malt whisky in the history of the House of Suntory goes to a Chinese bidder after a rare duty free auction.

Unifree Duty Free CEO Ali Şenher said: “We are thrilled that this record-breaking sale has taken place at our store. It provides further evidence that special products can help to achieve amazing results for airport retail and that Istanbul Airport is the perfect site to offer rarities like The Yamazaki 55 Year Old to a particularly discerning international clientele.”

The Yamazaki 55 Year Old is the oldest single malt whisky in the history of the House of Suntory. A blend of three exceptional single malts from the 1960s, it features components distilled under the supervision of Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii.

The Japanese whisky was launched by Unifree and Gebr. Heinemann in December with a special promotional staging

After releasing 100 bottles in 2020 in Japan through a lottery system, Suntory has expanded on the release in 2021 by offering an ultra-limited batch of another 100 bottles to the rest of the world, with several allocated to key travel retail partners, including Gebr. Heinemann. In November 2021, Delhi Duty Free made its highest-ever spirits sale when a customer bought a bottle of The Yamazaki 55 Year Old for Rs4,569,000 (US$61,000).

“We always strive to offer our travelling shoppers superior experiences and premium products,” said Gebr. Heinemann Director Purchasing Liquor, Tobacco and Confectionery Ruediger Stelkens.

“Whisky enthusiasts know they can rely on Heinemann and our joint venture partners as a flagship destination for the discovery of rarities like The Yamazaki 55 Year Old. Our effort going forward will be to continue to focus on premium and exclusive products in all categories and locations.”