As we have already said, US duty-free shops stock a pretty limited range of bourbons. The names that are there such as Jim Beam, the world’s best-selling brand, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey can easily be found downtown too. One US airport bar does deserve an honourable mention though. The upscale One Flew South at Atlanta airport Terminal E
does a nice line in bourbon cocktails, we hear.
Away from the States travellers will find better bourbon selections at airports in the big bourbon-drinking export markets like Germany, Australia and Japan, where brands such as Jim Beam and Wild Turkey are very popular, especially amongst younger consumers. Bourbon connoisseurs and those wanting to splash out on something a little bit more special should seek out the Le Clos outlet at Dubai airport Terminal 3
, however (see www.leclos.net)
This small shop stocks a nice little range of harder-to-find, fine sipping bourbons such as the award-winning Evan Williams Single Barrel at $33 (£20.70), Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 Year old at $69 (£43.30), and the limited-edition, cask-strength Parker’s Heritage from Heaven Hill distillery, which is priced at $111 (£70).
If you are not lucky enough to be passing through Dubai airport, however, and want to try a bottle of bourbon, what should you go for? Well, if you are passing through one of the big German airports this summer, look out for the memorably named Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, which should set you back about €25.99 (£21.40). This wonderfully dark, powerful tannic spirit is made from the trapped bourbon that soaks into the oak casks as it matures.
Water is sloshed around the used Jim Beam barrels, which releases the bourbon from the wood. It is then filtered to take out any nasty residues and mixed with standard 6 year-old Jim Beam to make an unusually powerful, complex sipping bourbon.
Another bourbon we like is Woodford Reserve. It is run by the same company, which owns Jack Daniel’s, but this small-batch bourbon is a very different beast. Unusually for bourbon, it is distilled three times making it sublimely smooth. Also, a high degree of rye in the production process makes Woodford Reserve a gloriously complex, smoky, earthy character, which some have likened to a single-malt Scotch whisky.
And we also have to give a shout out to Maker’s Mark, which is becoming more and more visible in global travel retail these days thanks to a big marketing push by the brand’s owner. What’s special about this aside from the quaint brown bottle with his red, hand-dipped wax seal? Well, this small-batch bourbon contains a high proportion of red winter wheat, which gives the finished bourbon a particularly sweet taste profile. It is also aged for up to seven years, giving it a special place in many bourbon drinkers’ hearts.
As you can see from just these three examples, bourbons can vary quite a lot in style and ultimately it is up to you to find one that suits your palate, and the drinking occasion. There are certainly worse ways to spend your time!