Aiming High

Aiming High

Joe Bates looks at why Dubai is aiming for the duty free title

Travel Retail | 04 Mar 2011 | Issue 94 | By Joe Bates

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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 gondolas have no place in Emporium either. It is all beautifully designed display cabinets and plasma screens. Discretely uniformed brand ambassadors are on hand to give customers more information about the brands and to sample even the most expensive of spirits.

Want a whisky sour made from Blue Label before you buy? Just ask the barman! Well, you get the general idea.
It is certainly an intriguing retail proposition and one that Diageo wants to replicate at other major international hubs around the world. Whisky lovers passing through Dubai international should also be aware though that Dubai Duty Free’s regular stores stock an increasing range of whiskies and its website (dubaidutyfree.com) now helpfully lists the brands stocked.


BEST BUY
Highland Park

Leif Eriksson

I am not sure what hardy Icelandic adventurers such as the famous Viking Leif Eriksson had with them to keep out the Atlantic chill on their epic voyages westwards, but a bottle or two of this latest limited edition release from Highland Park would surely have done the trick.

Highland Park Leif Eriksson pays homage to the 11th century Norseman, who is credited with being the first European to reach the Americas, but is far from an uncultured dram. Unusually for the Orcadian malt, the whisky hasn’t been matured in any European sherry oak, but only American oak sherry oak and bourbon casks.The resulting whisky is a delight with plenty of honey and vanilla on the nose and palate with a sweet, but also mildly peaty finish.

Highland Park Leif Eriksson will be sold exclusively to travel-retail priced at about €60 (£51.70) per bottle.


RECOMMENDED
The Dalmore

Age of Exploration

This great 1995 vintage release from The Dalmore is currently on special offer at World Duty Free, where it is exclusively stocked at £54.99.

Pre-order it on the retailer’s website (worldofwhiskies.com) before you travel and get a free miniature. Buy two bottles and get£10 off.

Finished in Madeira oak barrels for the last three years of its maturation, The Dalmore Age of Exploration is a rich, beautifully coloured whisky with a pleasing sweetness on the palate.
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