Bacardi GTR capitalises on fast-growing whisky category with TREX innovations

By Faye Bartle |

Bacardi GTR

L-R: Igor Pachi, Darragh Ryan, Leila Stansfield and TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle.

Bacardi Global Travel Retail held a press event on its stand at the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore in May to introduce new innovations from Dewar’s and Aultmore.

Leila Stansfield, Managing Director, Bacardi Global Travel Retail (GTR) set the scene for the company’s strategy in the channel, commenting: “As a business we think the travel retail space is really important – not just because of the exciting growth that’s out there, but also because of its ability to build brands, and to build premium brands.

“So globally for us as a business, this is the place we see as the shop window and where we over-invest to introduce our brands to consumers – because in this channel it’s where people are perhaps seeing our brands for the first time, especially in this part of the world (in APAC), or seeing a new product or an innovation launch. Or maybe they know the brand, but this is a way or us premiumising them up through the range.”

The Bacardi GTR vision is all about inspiring and delighting travellers and creating ‘moments that matter’ for them when they are travelling through the airport.

“It’s not enough anymore to just have a nice product on the shelf,” she explained. “We must focus on the experience that sits around it, right through from activations to our brand ambassadors and the stories they are trying to tell.”

Supercharging brands, disrupting the future

The strategy hinges on ‘supercharging the brands’ and ‘disrupting the future’.

In essence, this involves pinpointing the brands and categories that are ‘critical’ to the company’s future – and currently there are two key focuses on the radar.

Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted

The non-combustion process in the travel retail exclusive Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted Discovery Pack whiskies uses magma stones and water elements, which are combined with heat to create casks that are toasted evenly and consistently.

The first is the fast-growing whisk(e)y category and the other is tequila, which the company says is growing from a smaller base yet presents an equally attractive high growth rate opportunity.

“We believe you can’t just do things the way they’ve always been done,” said Stansfield.

“To continue exciting and delighting the traveller, we try to think of ways to do things differently to give them a reason to walk into the duty free sores and pick something off the shelves that they can’t get back home.”

Introducing stone toasted whisky to GTR

Enter Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted with magma utilising American Oak and French Oak casks – the latest innovation in the brand’s blended Scotch whisky portfolio.

As well as being visually alluring – the display with glowing stones were mesmerising on the Bacardi GTR stand in Singapore – the novel process highlights new ways to enhance flavour possibilities through cask maturation.

Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted

The TREX Discovery Pack retailed exclusively with CDFG in May and is rolling out to other locations across Asia Pacific, India, Middle East and the Americas from June.

As seasoned whisky enthusiasts will know, typically the inside of a cask is ‘toasted’ or ‘charred’ over an open flame or oven, for a few seconds.

Stone toasted casks – a method pioneered over the last decade for high-end wines – involves a gentler, slower approach to allow for more precision on toast levels, says Bacardi.

Igor Pachi, Bacardi’s GTR Advocacy Manager – South Asia, Australia, NZ & Pacific Islands, explained how it impacts the liquid, with the process giving greater scope for it to interact with the wood (by slowly opening the oak), in turn affecting the favours and colours.

“We do not add any flavours to whisky; it’s provided by the type of oak and the level or charring or toasting,” he underscored.

“So for this we are stepping away from the traditional toasting process to a new one called stone toasting – and that’s when things get very interesting.

“With stone toasting there is no direct naked flame contact [with the barrels], but we have full control of the levels of toasting.”

The uncut magma (volcanic) stones (chosen specifically for their heat conducting properties) gently toast the wood, slowly seasoning the oak and giving rise to softer, silkier textures and more refined, richer flavours.

“Magma stones are very porous and very light,” said Pachi. “They retain the heat for a long time and releasing it slowly which gives us full control of the process.

“It’s important to note that the stones don’t have any interaction with the liquid. It’s purely an interaction between the liquid and the wood.”

Travel retail discovery pack

Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted is a limited release with around 3,000 bottles available.

For travel retail, there is an exclusive Discovery Pack of two 75cl expressions (RRP US$440) which retailed exclusively with China Duty Free Group in May and is rolling out to other locations across Asia Pacific, India, Middle East and the Americas from this month (June 2024).

Dewar’s Double Double 21 Year Old Stone Toasted

Stone Toasted is the latest iteration of the Dewar’s series, highlighting new ways to enhance flavour possibilities through cask maturation. The new expressions showcase the influence of oak and how it is seasoned.

The TREX Discovery Pack includes two 75cl whisky expressions bottled at 46% ABV, with natural colour and no chill-filtration.

Further to Pachi’s description above, the non-combustion process uses magma stones and water elements, which are combined with heat to create casks that are toasted evenly and consistently.

The rotating stones are warmed and gradually emit heat to gently open the oak’s pores. Adjustments to toasting durations, yield diverse flavour combinations.

As Master Blender Stephanie Macleod described: “This series is all about showcasing the impact of the oak on the finishing liquid: American versus French, toasting levels and the source of the heat.”

This phase is vital in influencing the final flavour of the whisky. The stone toasted casks ‘enhance fruit, finesse and elegance while minimising the impact of oak on the resting whisky’.

In the final step of the four-stage Double Double ageing process, the blended Scotch whisky (which has aged for a minimum of 21 years) is finished for six months in the stone toasted casks.

“It’s first to market in terms of the approach we have taken,” said Stansfield.

Added Darragh Ryan, Marketing Director, Bacardi GTR: “That’s something we believe is truly innovative and is exclusive in the channel.

“We are on a constant mission to bring dynamism to the category to inspire these shoppers, especially those who are curious to find new twists on this classic category and we have a strong pipeline of launches for the year ahead, led by Dear’s Double Double Stone Toasted in May 2024.”

Moving on malts

Also revealed in Singapore was The Aultmore Cask Finish Collection of single-malt whiskies: a 12- (RRP $58), 18- ($170), 21- ($250) and 25-Year-Old ($500).

The new travel retail exclusive range is currently available in Europe and IMEA, launching in Asia Pacific later this year.

Comprising four expressions, The Aultmore Cask Finish Collection is described as ‘an elevated development of the existing range’ with a move to different cask finishes for each expression, as well as smaller, more sustainable and giftable 50cl bottles.

Aultmore

The TREX The Aultmore Cask Finish Collection comes in a smaller, more giftable format.

A different cask type and finish has been chosen for each variety, although the primary cask type for all four whiskies in the range are refill hogshead and barrels.

The 12-Year-Old is then finished in second-fill Oloroso sherry casks for soft, creamy toffee notes whereas the 18 Year Old is finished in second-fill Madeira wine casks, delivering exotic fruit aromas and a hint of dry spice.

The 21-Year-Old is finished in second-fill Calvados brandy casks, brimming with apple and toasted almond notes. Finally, the 25 Year Old, is finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks for intense tropical notes, beeswax and spice.

“One of the things we have been doing in the business is recognising the channel is under a lot of price pressure and also consumers are looking for something they can’t get back home,” said Stansfield.

“So increasingly over time we have moving our malts range to be exclusive to the travel channel.

“We have already done this with our Aberfeldy single malts range, which is all now finished in Madeira casks, which is different to the domestic range.

“And now we are doing the same with relaunching the Aultmore range with everything finished in different casks, which really sets it apart from what you can get in domestic while still having a strong link back to the brand.”

All four whiskies are bottled at 46% ABV and are non-chill-filtered with no caramel colouring.

Fully recyclable secondary packaging is utilised and a new tin seal on the bottle top means that all the packaging for the Aultmore range is plastic-free.

READ MORE: Bacardi delivers four-strong The Aultmore GTR Cask Finish Collection

READ MORE: Bacardi GTR appoints Sam Packard as Regional Director AMEA

READ MORE: Bacardi Global Travel Retail appoints Darragh Ryan as Marketing Director

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