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Issue 125 - The Art of Whisky's Sixth Continent

Whisky Magazine Issue 125
January 2015


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The Art of Whisky's Sixth Continent

Glenmorangie and the importance of travel retail

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.' Leonardo da Vinci's imagination knew few bounds, but his notes and sketches on flight give no indication as to whether even he could have seen what the future would make of the space between that longing and its final satisfaction, the time it takes from walking to flying, that sliver of existence now so explored – mined, enriched, enlarged – as to qualify, to paraphrase L'Oreal's Barbara Lavernos, as being a continent in its own right.

It's a metaphor, of course, but only just, and not nearly as rhetorical as it might first appear. The world of departures – of the duty free, of travel retail – is the tiny and narrow walkway along which 15 per cent of the globe's population wander, its enforced wait softened and stimulated by the opportunity to shop, eat and drink. Last year a billion people spent nearly £31 billion in travel retail. In 2019, that will have risen to around £64 billion, which to put things in context is the net worth of Facebook. Easy to see why Lavernos should have labelled it the sixth continent – officially also ferries, ships and border stores, but in reality a market dominated by airports.

While I'm old enough to have witnessed a get-what-you're-given bargain bucket culture of stacks of fags and booze become one of retail's fastest growing sectors, my real education as to the Final Frontier...

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