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En-route to Asia last month, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig stopped by Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt to sample some of the airport’s finest whiskeys. Read on for his take.
There’s no question that Lufthansa first class is a TPG favorite. We’ve run plenty of Lufthansa reviews over the years, and while I planned to review a new product on this trip instead (Asiana’s A380 first class), Winter Storm Jonas got in the way. Still, I was thrilled to get another chance to try out Lufthansa, and I right away began planning out my six-hour layover at the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.
My last visit had actually been in 2013, on the way back from my farewell trip on Singapore 21, the world’s longest flight. I had a blast during my layover that time, and discovered my love for whiskey after sampling quite a few at the terminal’s very well-stocked bar. Since then, I’ve become even more fond of single-malt Scotch, so naturally I penciled in some time to try a few more.
Accessing the First Class Terminal
As the name suggests, Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal is its own facility, separate from the rest of Frankfurt Airport. It’s designed to serve passengers beginning their journey in Frankfurt, but you can also use it on a connecting flight, assuming you don’t mind passing through immigration and walking outside for a few minutes to the terminal’s entrance.
The First Class Terminal is accessible to HON Circle members and passengers flying Lufthansa first class on the same day. You can access the terminal on an arriving Lufthansa first-class ticket as long as you’re connecting to another flight operated by Lufthansa, Austrian or Swiss. You’ll go through security once you enter the terminal and immigration just before you’re driven to your departing flight.
You’ll be assigned a “personal assistant” as soon as you enter the First Class Terminal, and they’ll likely bring you over to an empty seating area (there are plenty in the lounge). There you’ll find a selection of dried fruits and nuts and a full food and beverage menu. Attendants pass by every few minutes to take your order — we had our coffees and waters within a couple minutes of sitting down.
After having some coffee, I wandered over to the shower/bath rooms and requested one for myself. I was taken in right away.
The First Class Terminal rubber ducky is definitely a highlight for many guests. You should receive one automatically if you request a bath, though anyone visiting the terminal can ask for a duck. Lufthansa swaps these out fairly often, so they’ve become a collector’s item of sorts.
Lufthansa also has two sleeping rooms, complete with a door and twin-size bed.
You probably won’t be hungry right after a long-haul Lufthansa flight, but if you are there are plenty of options to choose from in the dining room.
I opted for the schnitzel, which was among the best I’d had in Germany.
My girlfriend had the gnocchi, which was also quite good, although the peppers were an odd choice of accompaniment.
The Whiskey Tasting
The First Class Terminal has hundreds of spirits to choose from, including a very healthy selection of top-shelf whiskeys. You can try as many different drinks as you’d like, though you’ll need to visit many times if you’re hoping to work through the entire collection. I originally intended to try 10 whiskeys, but the bartender gave a generous pour of each, so five ended up being more than enough.
Name: Dalmore King Alexander III
Notes: I asked to start with a 15-year-old Dalmore and a 16-year-old Lagavulin — both of which I discovered on my first FCT visit — but the bartender insisted on upgrading us to a Dalmore King Alexander III. It’s about three times more expensive than the Dalmore 15, and while I preferred the King Alexander III, I’d be perfectly happy with the $50 bottle, instead. This well-balanced Scotch was very smooth, with only a hint of smoke. It felt warm going down the throat. My girlfriend seemed to enjoy it quite a bit more than the Dalmore 15, which has become a staple at home.
Name: Lagavulin 1998 Distillers Edition
Notes: The world was a very different place in 1998, when this special edition Scotch was first bottled. It’s a fairly rare whiskey, and quite a bit pricier than the $60 Lagavulin 16 I’ve come to love. This variant definitely had a different taste — it was equally smokey, perhaps, but much more peppery. Definitely a unique scotch to try, but not the best pick for amateurs.
Name: Glenmorangie Signet
Notes: I had high hopes for this Scotch, based on the bartender’s recommendation and the $150 price tag, but I have to say the Signet was a bit of a letdown. It was fine and I certainly wasn’t about to spit it out, and while it was quite smooth, it did have the least distinctive flavor of everything we had tried so far. Which brings me to…
Name: Balvenie PortWood 21
Notes: This was a very pleasant Scotch. It was quite light — as Sarah described, this is the “white wine” of whiskey. I wouldn’t spend $150 on a bottle (I prefer the much more affordable Dalmore 15, personally), but I wouldn’t hesitate to pour myself a glass in an airport lounge. Speaking of which, I had done just that the night before at Lufthansa’s First Class Wining and Dining facility at JFK, which had the same bottle in stock.
Name: Laphroaig Quarter Cask
Notes: It was clear that the bartender put some thought into the order he presented these in, and the Laphroaig Quarter Cask was a solid pick to round out the selection. It was peppery, like the Lagavulin, and very smokey as well, with a lingering flavor. Definitely a solid pick, and quite reasonable at $45 for a bottle.
Plenty of Other Options
Of course, whiskey isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The First Class Terminal has plenty of wine and Champagne to choose from, as well as beer, and even a variety of international bottled waters.
There’s also a selection of Lufthansa-branded cocktails, but we didn’t partake on this trip.
And if there’s anything you liked in particular, you can walk around the corner to pick it up in the duty free store — there are quite a few options available, though you won’t find every single Scotch that’s available at the bar.
After our tasting we stopped by the cigar lounge, where you can help yourself to a free cigar. The perfect way to end an afternoon at the FCT.
Would I go out of my way to plan a stop at the First Class Terminal? Yes — absolutely. I’ve been to some pretty fantastic first-class lounges, but in my opinion the FCT has all the rest beat. In fact, I’m planning to pass through again on my way back to the States later this month. Let me know in the comments if there are any other whiskeys we should try!
Oh, and if you do have the chance to stop by the FCT, don’t forget to grab your limited-edition Lufthansa duck!
Have you done a whiskey tasting at the First Class Terminal? Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.