Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing

Joe Bates finds out how Switzerland embraces arrivals duty-free
Joe Bates

22 July 2011

Publication: Issue 97

The argument for arrivals duty-free has been growing for some time. Not only is there not having to lug your purchases half way around the world, but you also avoid all the hassles of complicated security rules relating to carrying liquids in hand luggage.

It's also been argued that choosing to buy on arrival rather than on departure helps airlines to reduce fuel burn, cutting their CO2 emissions. And lastly, one mustn't forget the new rules introduced by charming airlines such as Ryanair that are demanding passengers only take one piece of hand luggage with them onboard their flight.

Yes, the arguments for arrivals duty-free are pretty convincing and the latest country to be persuaded by them is Switzerland, which opened arrivals stores at all its major international airports on June 1. The stores' owners reckon annual sales from these shops will top CHF20m (£14.62m) each year, but the really good news for travellers is prices are genuinely duty-free as Switzerland remains outside the European Union.

At Zürich airport, which has arrivals shops in both terminals, customers can reserve any product they like in the departures shop on the outbound leg of their journey, and then collect it in the arrivals store on their return.

The choice of malt whiskies there is good too: Auchentoshan, Aberlour, Bowmore, Glengoyne, Laphroaig and Talisker are just some of the brands stocked.

If you are after something a little different, try the Glengoyne Burnfoot, a travel-retail exclusive at CHF45 (£32.90), and a slightly sweeter, smoother Glengoyne than other expressions in the range. Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (CHF89.90/£65.75) is another unusual find at a reasonable price, a powerfully warming, limited edition whisky selected from casks salvaged from a snow-damaged warehouse.

And if money is no object, you won’t be disappointed either. There is the beautifully packaged The John Walker, for instance, priced at CHF3,400 (£2,486), or the rich, complex Balvenie 40 Years Old at CHF3,999 (£2,924), a travel-retail exclusive limited to just 150 bottles. With its unusual spirit safe-style packaging, Glengoyne 1972 is a great buy at CHF649 (£475) given its age.

The Macallan

1824 Collection Limited Release MMXI

Travel-retail exclusives don’t get much more exclusive than this latest release from The Macallan, one of the fastest-growing single malts in duty-free.

Only 1,824 bottles of The Macallan 1824 Collection Limited Release MMXI have been released, but distribution has now expanded to include major Asian hubs such as Seoul Incheon, Hong Kong international and Taiwan Taoyuan airports.

Packaged in a suitably luxurious rosewood display box, this 42.8%abv whisky hails from sherry oak casks, many of them first fill.



Hamburg airport celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and to celebrate the occasion William Grant & Sons teamed up with the airport’s duty-free retailer Gebr. Heinemann to create one-off celebratory bottling.

The resulting Glenfiddich 1982 is a blend of four 1982 vintage barrels selected by malt master Brian Kinsman for their exceptional quality. The whisky itself is a rich golden colour and the nose there are smells of vanilla oak with zesty orange and a hint of linseed oil.

As befits a whisky celebrating a centenary, there are just 100 bottles of Glenfiddich 1982 available only at Hamburg airport for a price of €495 (£435) each.

Subscribe to Our Magazine

Published in print 8 times each year, Whisky Magazine is the perfect drinking companion for all who enjoy the water of life. Subscribe to Whisky Magazine

More From This Category

Wonders of Whisky

Subscribe to the Whisky Magazine Newsletter to see the latest in all things whisky