Can’t decide upon which duty-free whiskies to take home from Langkawi

For someone who gets dispatched to exotic foreign destinations, on the pretence of work and press trips while secretly amassing an enviable mileage in frequent flier programmes, the dearth of international travelling has robbed me of gratifying privileges. The generous pitch and fully reclined seat on the plane, fine bubbles that danced so graciously on my tongue, spending the evening at the best lodging in town… They are – gasp uproariously – not the stuff that I miss the most. Sure, I mourn their absence every now and then, but what really, really annoys me is having to pay full price for a bottle of Burgundy red, or London Dry, or scotch single malt. Essentially, anything I used to be able to fish out of the duty-free aisle on a whim, which I can’t anymore because – among a host of reasons – my passport has expired. Inconceivable, hitherto. 

To my mercy, Langkawi, the spiritual home of cut-price liquors, spreads her wings like an angel, welcoming the lost child to her duty-free embrace. Not to be confused with airport-only international travel retail exclusives, Langkawi too has her own selection of duty-free whiskies not available in mainland Peninsular. If you are like me who are repulsed by the “duty paid” sticker, look forward to these liquors when you land in Langkawi and remember to fulfil your 1-litre allowance on the way home. 

The Glenlivet Triple Cask Series 

The Glenlivet Triple Cask Series duty-free whiskies

Whisky drinkers who swear by single malt can rejoice at the sight of the triumvirate from The Glenlivet, with each expression exuding its own distinctive qualities. The Distiller’s Reserve is crafted for those who gravitate towards a mellow, fruity and balanced body perpetuated by distilleries from Speyside, Scotland of which The Glenlivet originates. The White Oak Reserve can be described as easy drinking courtesy of a sweet and velvety body, whose broad appeal will also cater to those who typically shun whisky. Connoisseurs, however, will be setting their sight on the Rare Cask. Rich and spicy, this whisky pairs well with Malaysian cuisine typified by heat and bold flavour. If lounging with Cuban treasures is your preferred pastime, the Rare Cask’s intensity ensures the aroma and flavour of the whisky aren’t lost to the smoke, so to speak. 

Prices may vary among outlets. Available at major duty-free stores. 

The Glenlivet Nàdurra 

The Glenlivet Nàdurra duty-free whisky

Bright and vivacious, the small-batch Nàdurra exemplifies why whisky makers are enamoured with Oloroso sherry. Matured entirely in first-fill Oloroso sherry oak barrels sourced from Jerez, Spain, Nàdurra which means natural in Gaelic is bottled without chill filtration and at cask strength. This untampered process elicits fuller aroma and flavour from the nose to the finish. Expect a burst of dry fruits interspersed with cinnamon and liquorice, before the whisky transitions into a pith of spicy orange marmalade and dark chocolate. A multifaceted finish between sweet, dry and spicy will make a return customer out of you.  

Prices may vary among outlets. Available at major duty-free stores. 

Ballantine’s 12 Years Old 

ballantines 12

It could well be Ballantine’s inconspicuous packaging that obliges the whisky staying below the radar, but this blended scotch has garnered favourable reviews from those who have put their noses to it. Value for money is an apt encapsulation. The 12 Years Old is said to be buttery and laced with honey, spice and a long finish that belies its affordable price tag. It is an approachable, everyday whisky versatile enough to be enjoyed neat or introduced into cocktails. 

Prices may vary among outlets. Available at major duty-free stores. 

Ballantine’s 30 Years Old 

Ballantine's 30 Years Old duty-free whisky

One’s made strictly to be relished neat, or with a splash of water to help unfurl the elegant bouquet of vanilla and candied fruits, the 30 Years Old indulges with a luxurious, decadently sweet body reminiscent of pear, peach and nectarine, complemented by lingering honey and floral flavours. You may want to consider getting two of these, with one consumed on the island and another kept at home for grander occasions. The reason? This blended scotch is a composition of sought-after whiskies from a constellation of distilleries, some no longer exist. This could well be the pinnacle of duty-free whisky in Langkawi.

Prices may vary among outlets. Available at major duty-free stores.

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