Whisky Magazine Issue 25
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Martin Moodle conducts his annual survey on what's hot - and good value - in the duty free shops of the world
Duty free retailers have had a tough time lately. First, those laugh-a-minute bureaucrats of Brussels said “RIP duty free” (or at least between European Union countries) back in 1999. And over the past 12 months sales have slumped in the face of foot-and-mouth disease (the livestock rather than Brussels bureaucrat kind) and a crippling of international air traffic post September 11th. Now the WHO (the World Health Organisation, not Townsend and Daltrey) is talking about banning duty free cigarette sales.
Ever get the impression someone is out to spoil our fun?
But it's not all bad news for the industry, especially for the consumer. Business is bouncing back and the whisky-shopper is spoiled for choice and overrun with promotional offers, especially in the UK. The six World of Whiskies stores run by BAA (all four Heathrow terminals, plus Gatwick North and Stansted) are stunningly good examples of airport shopping, offering an eclectic range of whiskies from the rare to the rarefied, with service to match.
The shops are also a glorious antidote to the chaos, stress and endless checks of the post September 11th airport experience. There's something simultaneously boffinish and accessible about these stores with their elegant wood panelling, regular tastings, knowledgeable staff and a thrilling mixture of special bottlings and collector's editions.
BAA's retail arm World Duty Free says that a third of the World of Whiskies range is not available in any of the tradition...