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Sky High

Buying whisky at 33,000 feet

Travel Retail | 04 Sep 2015 | Issue 130 | By Joe Bates

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Inflight shopping has long been something of a puzzle for me. This often disparaged retail business, constrained as it is by weight and space considerations, is still worth some £1.9 billion in sales a year. However, William Grant & Sons, the owner of Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, has recently decided to make inflight retail more of a priority. It's developed a range of miniature, multi-bottle gift packs especially for sale on airlines.

I decided to take a fresh look at some of the major airline's inflight shopping offers to see what they're currently offering in terms of whisky. A clear frontrunner is good old British Airways whose range of whiskies extends beyond the usual choice of standard blends to include mid-priced malts such as Isle of Jura 16 Years Old (£42), Glenfarclas 21 Years Old (£65), Aberfeldy 12 Years Old (£33) and Talisker Skye (£39).

In contrast, the offer onboard BA rival Virgin Atlantic is more limited. It focuses on popular blends such as The Famous Grouse (£13), Johnnie Walker Black Label (£26) and a personal favourite of mine, the well balanced Chivas Regal 18 Years Old (£48). Disappointingly, Virgin carries just one single malt on board: the omnipresent Glenfiddich 12 Years Old at £27.

Will any of this make you forsake your favourite airport shop in favour of inflight duty free? Unlikely, I am sure but perhaps the next time you're stuck for a gift or would like to relax with a dram why not pick up the inflight duty free catalogue. You might just be surprised.

The Glenfiddich

Residence Cask Vintage 1992

This limited edition release from Glenfiddich has been released to commemorate the opening of DFS Group's new wine and spirits store at Terminal 3 of Singapore Changi airport and is only available there.

The Glenfiddich Residence Cask Vintage 1992 is taken from a 22 Years Old whisky and is bottled at 58.7% ABV. Priced at $2,100 (£989), it offers up ripe pear and vanilla oak on the nose and layers of orange marmalade and creamy toffee. Anyone buying a bottle can have it personalised in store.


Pedro Ximenez Single Cask

World whiskies are still far too much of a rarity in duty free so it's pleasing to see that Dubai airport's Le Clos is once again proving a trailblazer in this regard, stocking the Amrut Pedro Ximenez single cask.

Bottled at 41% ABV and priced at £54.55 for a 70cl bottle, the unpeated Amrut Pedro Ximenez single cask packs in grassy, spicy, brown sugar and even a hint of chilli on the nose with chocolate, dried fruit and sweet spice on the palate. This whisky is a great example of what the Amrut Distillery is capable of and let's hope other airport whisky stores decide to stock this brand soon.
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