Whisky Magazine Issue 94
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Joe Bates looks at why Dubai is aiming for the duty free title
Dubai international airport is fast becoming the key location for the duty free spirits world. How so? Well, Dubai itself may have had a shaky couple of years, but the giant airport that serves this Middle Eastern metropolis is expanding at a breathtaking rate, taking full advantage of its mid-way point between West and East to become a major hub for long-haul carriers.
Passengers figures rocketed more than 15 per cent last year to reach nearly 41 million last year, but when the new Super-Jumbo handling Concourse 3 opens at the end of this year, the airport expects traffic figures to top 50 million.
Impressive stuff, and the affluent Chinese, Russian and Indian travellers who are using the airport in greater and greater numbers have certainly caught the eyes of the big spirits multinationals.
Look no further than the opening of Diageo's new Emporium store at Terminal 3, which opened last December in collaboration with Moët Hennessy and Dubai Duty Free. Featuring a designer cocktail bar that wouldn't look out of place in a five star hotel, Emporium tries to create the kind of upscale retail environment to match the super-premium brands it sells.
Of course we are not talking cheap blends and knock-down VS here. It is ultra-premium whiskies such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label and King George V Edition all the way, as well as top-class bubblies from the likes of Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot Champagnes, and iconic Cognacs like Hennessy Richard.
Dusty shelves and wobbly gon...