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Issue 139 - Travel Retail Exclusives

Whisky Magazine Issue 139
October 2016


This article is 21 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Travel Retail Exclusives

A year in the life of the duty-free business

All things considered it's not been a vintage year for the world of duty-free. In the UK, airport shopping has repeatedly come under fire in newspapers for ripping off travellers with overpriced goods. Incidents of alcohol-fuelled 'air rage' have become so numerous that the government has announced an overhaul of airport licensing regulations. Elsewhere, currency fluctuations, terrorist attacks and a slowdown in many emerging markets around the world have combined to make a very tough trading climate.

From a passenger's point of view, however, I maintain that the airport is still a great place to pick up a fantastic bottle of whisky whether you have a £50 to spend or £500. Now if price savings are your main motivation to buy, I suggest doing your homework before you travel. Many airports and airport shops have websites (and even smartphone apps) to help you check prices against the high street or online. In many cases it's also possible to pre-order online and then collect your purchase on your return trip, avoiding the hassle of having to carry a heavy bottle of whisky around with you on your travels.

The range of so-called 'Travel Retail exclusive' single malts, the majority of them non age statement releases, has continued to grow over the past year. Not every example is a winner, that's for sure. There are too many youthful, immature whiskies out there on airport shelves with price tags they don't warrant. I'm still a fan of exclusives as a concept, however. They give...

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