Border store

Border store

Joe Bates heads across the American border

Travel Retail | 22 Jul 2008 | Issue 73 | By Joe Bates

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The US and Canada share the longest common border anywhere in the world. It stretches an astonishing 5,522 miles and dotted along its length at major crossings are numerous duty-free shops, many of them run by small, family-owned businesses.

One of the biggest and best stores on the Canadian side of the border is at the Blue Water Bridge crossing between Ontario in Canada and Michigan in the US.

In 2003 family-owned Blue Water Bridge Duty Free won the coveted Frontier Award for the best duty-free retailer of the year— no mean feat given the size of some other duty-free operators in the running.

Blue Water’s whisky offer is very good, stretching to some 160 lines and is regularly updated as new launches become available. As you might expect there are plenty of Canadian whiskies on offer, including Gibson’s Sterling (C$12/£6), Canadian Club (C$40.97/£20.50) and the very collectable Wiser’s Red Letter (C$120/£60), which is aged 10 years in virgin oak barrels and commemorates the brand’s 150th anniversary.

The bourbon and Tennessee whiskey on offer is extensive too. Jack Daniel’s fans will find a real cask of their favourite whisky in-store and can purchase a specially engraved bottle siphoned from it.

Malt whisky sales are growing fast and Blue Water is building a new in-store area to showcase aged and rare Scotch whiskies. The new section of the shop is almost complete. High-end lines already available include The Macallan Fine Oak 18 Years Old (C$109.95/£55), Glendronach 33 Years Old (C$290), Glengoyne 21 Years Old (C$130/£145.50) and Johnnie Walker Blue Label (C$195/£98).

It’s worth noting that on request Blue Water will package bottles so that they can be taken safely in air travellers’ checked luggage as many tourists stop by at the shop on their way to Detroit airport.

For more information on Customs allowances, monthly special offers and border traffic conditions, check Blue Water’s website before traveling at


31 Years Old

French airport retailer Aelia has been making a name for itself recently as a seller of exclusive drams and this latest expression from that delightfully smooth, Speyside whisky Aberlour enhances that reputation further. It is well worth looking out for if you happen to be passing through either Paris Charles de Gaulle or Nice airports this summer.
Aberlour 31 Years Old originates from a single American oak barrel (Cask No.4581) and was filled on 29 May 1975. It has matured into a rich, multi-layered whisky. Only 96 bottles are available priced at e255 (£202) duty-free and e280 (£222) duty-paid.


12 Years Old

If you think you know Irish whiskey, this delicately peated single malt from the innovative independent Cooley Distillery will make you think again.

The award-winning Connemara 12 Years Old combines the smoothness of traditional Irish whiskey and the smokiness associated with malts from the Scottish islands.

It’s a pleasing marriage.The nose has a smoky, peatiness, which is balanced by hints of honey and dried nuts.

Connemara 12 Year Old is stocked at Dublin airport’s duty-free shops priced at e77.95 (£62) duty-free and e89.95 (£71) duty-paid.
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