DFS details Master of Spirits event at Changi

By Doug Newhouse |

DFS Group would appear to be taking the same level of intimate one-on-one personal service it offers in its downtown Gallerias to Changi Airport’s CIP Terminal on March 11-12 this weekend, with its first-ever Masters of Spirits event. (story and comment).

The invitation-only event will feature leading distillers and craftsmen who will address invited attendees on production processes and their various brand pedigrees, while connoisseurs will also be able to taste ‘some of the most prized products from the world’s most distinguished distilleries and vineyards’, in ‘unmatched’ fashion, according to DFS. 

This first event of its kind at an airport will also feature a series of private dinners and a gala event on March 12. 

[Further details on what appears to be a quite amazing event can be found in the Master of Spirits video at:www.dfsgalleria.com/masterofspirits/index.html”].

Commenting on the event, DFS Group President of Worldwide Store Operations, Michael Schriver said that DFS’ ongoing partnership with the Changi Airport Group will help take the event to greater heights. “We are extremely pleased to have the full support of our valued partners to host such a world-class spirits and wine event,” he said.

Meanwhile, President of Merchandising, Harold Brooks, said invited guests can expect world-class treatment and that the event will embody the intrinsic values of DFS – ‘that of unsurpassed luxury, exclusivity and high-quality merchandise’.

He said: “From the very moment guests arrive to the moment they leave, they will be immersed in an experience like no other in the fine spirits market. From exquisite dining to quality entertainment, their needs will be well-catered for.

“The Master of Spirits event is one of the very unique occasions where we have so many leaders in the luxury spirits world showcasing their fine and rare products all under one roof. This isn’t just another event – it’s the only event to be if you’re a true spirit connoisseur.” DFS said that some of the highlights of this interesting event and the ultra exclusive limited offerings will include the following:

Chivas Brothers will be making the last bottle of Royal Salute 50 Year Old to be sold from the distillery available. This was created to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and is one of only 255 individually-numbered flagons in the world.

[A special auction is also taking place for the Royal Salute 50 Year Old at the event, with all proceeds set to go to the Hand for Haiti charity which is building a world-class educational facility for children in Haiti-Ed].

Two bottles of ‘The Highland Park 50 Year Old’ – described as the distillery’s ‘oldest and most prestigious release’ will be presented at the event, with each bottle ‘uniquely sheathed’ in an intricate net cage that reflects the elemental forces and medieval beauty of Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The bottles have been specially designed and handcrafted by internationally-renowned jewellery designer Maeve Gillies. 

Two bottles of The Macallan Lalique 55 Year Old in a Limited Edition Lalique Decanter will also be shown. These were specially created and hand-crafted by 25 of France’s finest and there are only 420 individually numbered decanters in the world.

In addition, The Macallan Fine & Rare Linley Cabinet will also be shown, which is ‘an ultimate collaboration’ with the renowned British furniture design company. The ‘exquisitely crafted’ Linley cabinet is a distinctive showcase for the Macallan’s famous single malt Scotch whisky collection across six decades: 1937, 1949, 1952, 1960, 1976 and 1989. This collection has been created exclusively for the Master of Spirits event, with the 1960 vintage coinciding with the year that DFS Group (known then as Duty Free Shoppers) was formed.

William Grant & Sons will also be represented by The Balvenie Forty, a selection of rare whiskies obtained from seven hand-selected casks which have been maturing for over 40 years. Created by Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart, each bottle is hand-numbered and presented in a wooden box. Two bottles will be available at the event from the original 150 limited edition bottling.

Rémy Cointreau Global Travel Retail will also be represented with its The Louis XIII Rare Cask 43.8, ‘a supremely rare Cognac’ which has been hand-picked by Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet for its ‘unique strength, richness and intensity in 2004’. One bottle will be brought in for this event.

Still with Rémy is the Louis XIII Black Pearl Magnum, a Cognac ‘of royalty, rarity, sublime taste and dramatic presentation’. Each bottle contains a blend of 1,200 Cognacs, ranging from 40 to 100-years-old, across three generations of cellar masters. One bottle only will be showcased at the event. 

According to DFS’ website (see URL address above) the Master of Spirits event will also be offering other luxurious events. For example, DFS has a travel experience on offer for one connoisseur and up to five guests in celebration of the release of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac Tres Vielle age Inconnu, Decanter 718. Rémy Martin has put together a four-day, one-of-a-kind itinerary that explores the prestigious Cognac house.

This includes first-class travel to Paris CDG, a private limousine to the five-star Hotel Le Meurice and a private dinner with a three-star Michelin chef in his own kitchen.

Day two includes a private plane ride from Paris to Cognac, lunch at the famous La Ribaudiere restaurant, a private visit to the House of Rémy Martin, a helicopter tour over the vineyards and a private Louis XIII tasting and dinner with Rémy Martin Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet.

Guests will also receive a unique bottle of Rémy Martin especially blended by Trichet.

Day three consists of a private plane trip from Cognac to Bordeaux and a limousine transfer to the Spa Hotel Les Sources de Caudalie. This concludes with a dinner at Chateau Margaux.

[The Business understands that there are also other brand-owner related travel experiences that will also be offered].

Meanwhile, the Cognac house of Hennessy will also be represented by its Hennessy X.O. Mathusalem Berluti Chest, which is a limited-edition bottle housed in a ‘bespoke’ leather-bound wooden chest made by renowned French shoemaker Berluti. Just one bottle will be made available at the event.

Two of the most expensive Champagne jeroboams (three-litre bottles) available today will also be on show featuring the Dom Perignon White Gold Wedding Jeroboam 1995. Officially launched in 2008, each exclusive numbered bottle is said to combine the ‘exquisite craftsmanship’ of the finest jewellers and wine creators. 

Penfolds will also be represented with the Penfolds Bin 7 Coonawarra 1967, ‘a rare and collectable blend of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon with Barossa Shiraz sourced from Penfolds most treasured old blocks.’ DFS says that only 500 cases of Bin 7 were ever made and it is estimated that less than 20 cases remain in existence today. Hence, only one bottle will be available at the event.

COMMENT: Exclusive invitation-only luxury exclusive events have become an increasing feature of DFS’ expanding portfolio offer to its customers in recent years, with one of the best examples probably illustrated by the highly successful Masterpieces of Time event held back in November 2009 at The DFS Galleria Macao.

At that time, DFS – in association with the Venetian Macao and the Four Seasons Hotel – held a special event showing some 200 rare limited-edition timepieces from 21 world-renowned watchmaker brands. 

This included a catwalk show and appearances from famous Chinese models Yu Na and Hu Bing, besides cigar rolling, Cognac and Moët Champagne tastings, a mixologist bar and live music performances – including one by famed Chinese singer Li Jian.

Other big events have subsequently followed, including last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Hong Kong and the same in Honolulu in Hawaii last January, gaining positive worldwide publicity for the retailer and only helping to build its ‘retail brand’ profile further.

In January of this year DFS also opened a new temporary retail concept at the DFS Galleria Waikiki called ‘The Vault’, which was created to be a special exclusive luxury experience whereby duty free customers could be introduced to rare and valuable watches, jewellery, handbags, Scotch whisky and other items – by prior appointment only.

Then there are the exclusive offerings that the retailer has launched that are too numerous to mention and some of which have only been available through the DFS Platinum Services Club. 

The attention to detail demonstrated at the aforementioned and other events staged by DFS has been impressive, as the retailer has built up its high-spending customer base amongst PRC and other nationals. 

The fact that this weekend’s Masters of Spirits event will have a concentrated focus on the spirits business in particular is a slight departure from the big events in other product sectors in the recent past, although there is no reason to suppose that it should be any less successful. 

The opportunity for spirits’ brandowners to sit opposite high-spending connoisseurs is obviously potentially positive. At the same time it can only reinforce DFS’ reputation with these connoisseurs/buyers that DFS has the credible pulling power to get the right companies and brand offerings into the room. DFS has already achieved this very impressively with high spenders within the watch sector in recent years. 

To be able to demonstrate the success of such events involving the liquor business will also hardly hurt the retailer’s tender applications for both the Hong Kong and Singapore Changi airport L&T contracts, which are both expected to come up for tender this year (Hong Kong) and next year (Singapore).



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