Whisky specialist Shane Batchler lives a life that many people dream about. By day he is surrounded by his favourite obsession at the International Terminal's Lotte Duty Free Whisky Tasting Bar, and each evening he indulges in a dram from his private collection.
Batchler has 325 bottles at home and 30 open for tasting, so he has plenty of options, but confesses that it’s often a whisky that he has been sharing with passengers during the day that takes his fancy that evening.
“I get some comfy clothes on, load up Netflix and join the two or three friends who are waiting for me at home for a taste of whatever I have been selling the most of during the week.”
Knowledge from the source
It was a chance visit to a mate’s house where Batchler sampled the father’s Glenmorangie that sparked his passion and started the then 20-year-old on his whisky journey. After a stint working in the public service, Batchler joined Brisbane Airport’s duty free store three years ago to work at the whisky bar. Now 32, he shares his knowledge with customers, particularly in single malt Scotch Whisky, boosted by his extensive travel in Scotland. Batchler has been to 32 distilleries learning about the cask influences and flavour profiles of his favourite spirit.
At Brisbane Airport, international travellers can start their journey in whisky exploration with a crash course at the bar and enjoy up to three free tastings of more than 100 varieties of Scotch before they fly.
Batchler suggests novices begin with a sip of Aberlour, which is considered a ‘breakfast’ whisky in Scotland. Batchler starts the ‘tour’ by asking people if they prefer smoky or sweet and then takes the tastings from there. More seasoned whisky drinkers will also find some rare treats in the Lotte collection, including a 38-year-old Brora single malt whisky, available at an impressive $3,800 a bottle or a 37-year-old Linkwood single malt whisky priced at a mere $1,050 per bottle.
Like fine wine a good Scotch whisky can increase in value with age as Batchler has discovered with his own collection. His most prized item is an eight-year-old Talisker single malt from the 1980s, purchased for $600 five years ago and estimated to have a current value around $3,000.
While Batchler is a self-confessed collector of mostly single malts from Scotland, he says Australian brands are also popular with travellers looking for gifts and additions to their own collections, including Sullivans Cove and Hellyers Road from Tasmania, and Starward from Victoria. Lotte Duty Free also stocks whiskies from Canada, America and Japan.
Shane Batchler's Top 5 Whisky Picks
- Glendronach, $99 - This 10-year-old whisky is hard to find in Australia and has what Shane describes as a ‘sherry-bomb’ flavour.
- The Balvenie 12 Triple Wood, $99 - Only available in duty free shops, The Balvenie 12-year-old single malt is from a small batch distillery in the whisky heartland of Speyside, Scotland with a flavour sweet with honey tones, says Batchler.
- Dalmore Valour, $130 - Aged in oak sherry casks for 30 years, Dalmore comes in a bottle stamped with a silver stag head. The flavour is sweet, like Christmas cake cherries, says Batchler.
- Glenmorangie Signet, $220 - Made with coffee roasted barley. Batchler’s tasting tip is to add a dram to the end of a used espresso cup for a real flavour surprise.
- Talisker Neist Point, $230 - Sea mist from the west coast of Scotland settles over the barrels of this smoky whisky from the Isle of Skye, imparting an unusual salty tinge to the flavour.
Where to find the whisky tasting bar
The Whisky Tasting Bar is at Lotte Duty Free, located on Level 3, International Terminal (after security and passport control) and is open for every departing flight.