The new Spirits and Wines flagship store at Changi Airport Terminal 3 is the pinnacle of the DFS experience.
Located at the departure hall of Terminal 3, the new outlet spans all of 11,400 square feet and across two floors. It is DFS’ largest such retail space in the world, and is the first duplex store of its kind.
Philippe Schaus, CEO and Chairman of the DFS Group says in the official release: “When we embarked on this unique project, we wanted to offer Singapore, the most renowned travel destination in South East Asia with the most modern airport, a wines and spirits store of a quality and richness unlike anywhere else in the world.”
Press releases are prone to a little hyperbole now and then, but there’s certainly none here as the new store lives up to its boasts. Even if DFS’ obsessive attention to aesthetics does not impress you, it will impress upon you that they certainly spared no expense in doing so. DFS even commissioned award-winning interior designer Masamichi Katayama of Wonderwall to conceptualise the new premises.
Inspired by the traditional and historic cellars of France and Scotland, as well as fashionable bars and restaurants around the world, the store was designed to showcase DFS’ full assortment of wines, spirits and tobacco in visually dramatic fashion: shoppers will be greeted by a façade inspired by flowing water and undulating shapes, while on the inside, warm and modern design elements are accentuated by a double-height atrium measuring over eight meters high. The strikingly posh interior forms the foundation for arguably the ultimate shopping and tasting experience you’ll ever have at an airport. And even if it wasn’t, it will be mighty close.
Fortunately the new duplex is not merely a deluge of exquisite yet cold waves of shelves, bearing spirit sirens that beckon you to part with your money at every turn. It is home also to many experience booths and bars that will offer you firsthand education on the bewitching world of fine liquors; which is ironically a far better temptress. These common areas will be graced by guided tastings and other interactive activities, which includes masterclasses in cocktail mixology, bartending, and private hosting even.
DFS has also worked with the legendary Long Bar of Raffles Hotel to set up an outlet on the second floor. The Long Bar at DFS will offer a variety of fine cocktails made from the fine spirits available at DFS – and yes, their cocktail menu, which will change from time to time, does include the world-famous Singapore Sling. It’s a collaboration that makes perfect sense for consumers, and one that allows you to evaluate firsthand how some spirits taste in cocktails. Or it can simply be an enjoyable way to spend time before your flight.
It has to be said that despite the extravagance and desire to showcase the swank, DFS still proudly boasts some of the lowest prices for duty-free spirits in the Asia Pacific region. DFS is committed to keeping their prices competitive and have stated that they do regular price checks around the region to make sure that they are.
As a demonstration of their commitment, they have even gone to the extent of installing booths that you can use to see what the prices are at other airports. You simply scan the barcode of the bottle in question, and the machine will list the prices from the various travel retail outlets around Asia as proof of its low prices.
The biggest highlight of the new Wines & Spirits experience is in its boutiques; DFS has collaborated with several brands – Nine in fact, in Absolut, Dom Pérignon, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s, Hennessy, Johnnie Walker, The Macallan, Martell, and Penfolds – to create bespoke branded boutiques, all situated on the second floor of the duplex. The boutiques showcase their respective brand’s heritage, as well as their signature products in their own unique fashion. The boutiques will host visits from master distillers, blenders and brand ambassadors throughout the year, so look out for these opportunities if you are a fan.
DFS has also expanded its range of products to over 1,400, with over 440 spirits, wines and tobacco brands on show. It carries over 150 different wines, including prized vintage selections with a Cellar Master Guarantee – a unique service to ensure provenance of the wines by sourcing directly from the winemaker’s stock. For whisky lovers, DFS now carries over 110 products from over 50 brands, ranging from standard distillery bottlings to independent bottlings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society; Asian pride in the form of Kavalan and Suntory (Yamazaki and Hakushu), and you can even find the highly sought-after Port Ellen here as well.
And of course, regardless of how you feel about ‘prestige’ spirits that costs more than a car – or two – there’s something to be said about viewing them in a room designed to show them off. It may surprise some of you, but there actually is a market for this. Back in 2011 DFS sold what was then, the world’s most expensive bottle of whisky – a 62-year-old Dalmore – for a princely sum of S$250,000 (that record, inevitably has since been smashed). In any case, the Prestige collection at DFS is quite an eyeful, and warrants a look. It is literally millions of dollars worth of spirits in one monster of a room.
For lovers of fine spirits, the new DFS Wines & Spirits Duplex is as as close as it gets to a veritable Disneyland – a bit over-elaborate, a little larger than life, but oodles of fun for the kid within. It’s worth checking in a little earlier than usual and make a detour to one of the best travel retail experiences you can have at the moment.
Spotlight: Johnnie Walker
The JOHNNIE WALKER HOUSE at DFS is the seventh of its kind in the world – and the first in Southeast Asia – and is yet another addition to its expanding network of whisky embassies.
Designed to reflect its success story as a global brand and with an ode to the classic travel trunk show, the boutique functions as both a showcase for its unique collection of whiskies, as well as a visitor centre of sorts, guiding onlookers through its history and heritage in the blending arts.
Johnnie Walker offers plenty of special bottles and collectibles, which make great gifts thanks in part to its striking visual presentation. To commemorate the launch Johnnie Walker introduced a limited edition Blue Label – the pinnacle of the Johnnie Walker range, not counting the more premium lines – which is only available at Singapore Changi Airport.
Illustrated by Dawn Ng, the striking white bottle depicts the journey from Scotland to Singapore, juxtaposing the landscape of Scotland and the skyline of Singapore. If you find these interesting, you should know that the boutique has plenty more where that came from. Also available are the following: John Walker & Sons Master Blenders Collection, Johnnie Walker Epic Dates Collection, Johnnie Walker House Five Gods Of Wealth Series Limited Edition, and Johnnie Walker House Zodiac Collection.
A mainstay of many a travel retail store, Glenfiddich also has a boutique at the new duplex. Furthermore, we had the good fortune of swinging by when Brian Kinsman, Malt Master at Glenfiddich distillery, was in town.
Brian is the sixth generation Malt Master at Glenfiddich, and was mentored by one of the living legends in the industry: David Stewart, who is currently Malt Master at Glenfiddich’s sister distillery, The Balvenie. Brian has a background in chemistry, which makes him one of a rare breed of master blenders with training in both the arts and science.
Brian was here to grace the opening and to take us through the experience boutique and its travel retail exclusive bottlings – including a unique bottling specially chosen for DFS.
The Glenfiddich boutique is rather understated and has been designed to evoke the feel of a cask cellar; a proud proclamation of the strength of its cask management and consistency of its spirit.
But the highlight here, while it lasts at least, is a 1992 vintage Residence Cask specially chosen by Brian himself for DFS. DFS had wanted something tailored to the taste profile of their customers who are mainly from Southeast Asia. Brian says that the taste profile of the Residence Cask is pretty much definitive Glenfiddich (of the modern variety).
Official Notes for 1992 Residence Cask
Cask #8247, first fill Bourbon barrel. Filled on 13 March 1992 and matured in warehouse 36
nose A classic expression of Glenfiddich with ripe pear, baked apple and vanilla oak. With a few drops of water the aroma opens up to reveal further layers of cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted almonds
palate Rich and mellow with deep oakiness. Layers of vanilla, creamy toffee, spiced fruit and tangy orange marmalade
FINISH A rich, long lasting sweetness
The actual cask can also been seen at the boutique, housed in an innovative glass display that replicates the weather conditions back at the distillery; Glenfiddich’s way of bringing ‘a little bit of Scotland’ over here.
If you purchase a bottle of the 1992 Residence Cask, you can personalise the label on the bottle, and fill out a ledger book to record proof of ownership of the bottle. This leather bound tome will eventually be sent back to Glenfiddich, and will become part of its history.
In the event that the ’92 vintage is no more, you can also pick up the 25YO Rare Oak that is rather excellent as well – both are good examples of an excellent, modern Glenfiddich.
Fellow editor Daniel couldn’t resist, and grabbed an 18YO – complete with Brian’s signature and blessings – for himself. On a side note, the 18YO has undergone a makeover and now sports a spiffier tin packaging to differentiate it from its younger siblings.
Thanks to DFS Singapore, we’re giving away two sets of cocktail tools – consisting of a jigger, hawthorne strainer, shaker, and a trident bar spoon – which will make great starter kits for making cocktails at home.
Simply post an Instagram picture of your visit to the new Wines and Spirits Duplex at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and add #spiriteddfs. At the end of the contest window, the two pictures with the most likes will walk away with a mini home cocktail kit. The contest closes 31 July 2015.
Photo credits: DFS, Diageo