Today we have a guest post from a Shai, a friend who gets to travel around way more than me or the average person (or a dozen of them). If you have ever been looking for a decent whisky in an airport lounge, you know it’s hard to get by, but a whole whisky club in a lounge? That’s unique. Shai has visited the club is happy to report back to you all:
As part of their recent overhaul of the Terminal E lounges, Swiss Airlines recently opened a whisky bar called Whisky Club 28/10 in their Senator lounge at Zurich Airport. On a recent long layover at ZRH, I was able to check it out. The club is named for a runway at Zurich Airport- runway numbers are always compass directions, so 28/10 means it’s 100 degrees from one direction and 280 degrees from the other.
Where: Terminal E (long-haul international flights area)
How to get there: Take the mooing Heidi train. Tell the passport control people you want to use the E lounges, 99% of the time they send you right through even if you don’t have an international flight. Follow signs for Senator Lounge, then in the lounge turn left.
Who has access: Swiss/Lufthansa/Star Alliance First Class, Lufthansa Senators, Star Alliance Gold
Minimum required layover time: Based on past experiences with this airport, I think you’ll need about 45 minutes for flights departing from E gates and 70-90 minutes for flights departing from A/B/D gates.
Price: Free, of course!
Although there were a few bottom shelf bottles more typical of airport lounges (Johnny Walker Red, and the like), the vast majority of the 100 or so bottles on offer seemed to be standard but top shelf single malts and blends. I was pleasantly surprised to see bottles like Balblair 2005, Clynelish 14 year old, the whole standard range of Compass Box, and all manner of others, even a few single cask Signatory bottles and world whiskies like Amrut and Kavalan. More than that, the bartenders seem to be very well-educated and excited about whisky, and have a vast knowledge of their products, which I was told change regularly.
This being Switzerland, I decided to try a few of the Swiss whiskies on offer, and the lovely Jasmina was only too pleased to oblige.
Fohn Sturm, 46%
A NAS from the Appenzell region. Aged in both beer and wine casks, it has a very distinct yeasty sweetness, reminiscent of breakfast sweet rolls. Very pleasant.
Bergsturz 10 year old, 40%
Blindfolded, I would guess this to be any 10-12 year old ex-bourbon highland Scotch. Heather and butter on the nose with a very fruity palate: fresh cut peaches, some citrus. Very nice.
This tasted like a very young ex-bourbon Highland. The nose was dominated by spirit, the palate by wood tannin. However, when I returned to this after a half hour in the glass, it had greatly improved, with citrus notes in the nose.
Macardo 2009, 42%
This whisky aged in new American oak, and new American oak is what’s on offer in the nose and palate. I would have guessed this to be some kind of budget rye. Let’s be generous and simply call it “bracing,” shall we? Avoid, or buy some bottles for your enemies.
Langatun Old Bear, 6 years old, 40%
Aged in ex-Chateauneuf-du-Pape casks. This was my favorite of the bunch. Nice complexity and richness that belies both its age and ABV. On the nose: definitely some wine cask going on here. Stone fruits and sweet candies, with some gentle smoke. On the palate: rich, slightly smokey chataigne honey and plums. Exceptional.
Langatun Old Deer, 6 years old, 40%
Keeping with the geriatric animal theme, Langatun produced this delicious number using sherry and chardonnay casks. On the nose: could there be some peat in here? Sweet red fruits and berries. Palate: Gentle smoke, almost too gentle. Maybe it’s not even there? The BTC messed with my brain. Very rich raisin from the sherry, and gentle nuttiness from the chardonnay. Excellent dram indeed, reminiscent of some of the gentler Bowmores I’ve had.
What a great place to spend a layover. Great selection of constantly changing single malts, exceptional service from knowledgeable staff, and all the small touches we whisky nerds love (like small water pitchers on the side, and being able to choose between Zwiesel and Spiegelau nosing glasses- I’m a Zwiesel man, myself). I highly recommend stopping in if you’re stuck in Zurich for a few hours.
P.S. If you happen to also have access to the new Swiss First Class Lounge (connected to the Whisky Club by an outdoor veranda), you can augment your whisky experience with some more expensive (but not necessarily better) whiskies. These include the various Macallan duty free NAS bottles, some Laddies and Port Charlotte, a few entry level Japanese whiskies, and, perhaps best of all, Highland Park 18 year old. But you’re probably better off trying one of their hundreds of wines instead.