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Issue 81 - Above the clouds

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009


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Above the clouds

Joe Bates gives in-flight duty-free a chance.

In the four years I have been writing this column we have covered plenty of airports, as well as the odd border shop and ferry line.

However, one channel of distribution, which I have yet to touch on, is the duty-free in-flight business, which is worth £1.72 billion in annual sales.

I am sure most of us have idly flicked our way through a dogeared in-flight magazine during a particularly long flight, but how many people actually buy something? It's a shame as prices are often competitive and many airlines now operate a convenient on-line pre-order (and in some cases home delivery) service.

For reasons of space and weight, the selection of whiskies available tends to be small, but there are some gems out there if you know where to look. For example, British Airways (BA) is currently offering the very collectable Glenury Royal 36 Years Old at £475 as part of its Premium Collection, along with Highland Park 30 Years Old (£145) and Rosebank 25 Years Old (£150).

From a whisky perspective the pickings are slimmer over at BA's archrival Virgin Atlantic, but even there you will find an exclusive Glenfiddich bottling to be snapped up. Available only as a pre-order item, Glenfiddich Virgin Atlantic Private Vintage 1978 is priced at £250 and only 250 bottles were released.

The in-flight shopping brochures of the big Asian carriers are also well worth a look. As you might expect, they tend to major on ultrapremium blends.

Thai Air, for instance, stocks Royal Salute 21 Years Ol...

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