Travel Retail

Group growth

Joe Bates looks at another popular Middle East destination
By Joe Bates
Abu Dhabi has had to live under the shadow of its smaller, brasher neighbour Dubai for decades, but this oil-rich city is now fast emerging as one of leading tourist destinations in the Gulf.Top-class hotels, shopping malls and museums are rising out of the desert sand and the airport, which serves this ambitious United Arab Emirate, is growing fast too.

As part of a US$6.8bn expansion plan, Abu Dhabi opened a new terminal (T3) earlier this year dedicated to the fast-growing national carrier Etihad.

The line up of shops in the new facility is suitability upmarket with stores from the likes of Cartier, Bvlgari, Givenchy, Emporio Armani and Chloé.

The world’s largest and arguably most competent duty-free retailer, DFS Group, has been drafted in to take care of the duty-free offer.The Hong Kong-based company has done an excellent job and if you can fight your way through the extensive beauty and fashion ranges, you’ll find a pretty decent selection of premium Scotch whiskies too.

Ultra-premium blends are particularly well represented in T3. For example, you’ll find Royal Salute 38 Years Old priced at AED1,530 (£253), Chivas Regal 25 Years Old at AED900 (£149), Ballantine’s 30 Years Old at AED1,080 (£177) and Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V Edition at AED1,440 (£238).

In contrast, the malt selection is safe rather than spectacular, but nevertheless look out for the likes of Highland Park 30 Years Old (AED900/£149), The Macallan 1824 (AED6,797/£1,124) and The Glenlivet XXV at AED900 (£149).

Happily, DFS generally does customer service very well. Shop staff are multi-lingual and there’s even a personal shopper service available. One other thing to mention: inbound duty-free allowances are generous at four litres of spirits per person.


BEST BUY
Highland Park

1973 Vintage

This new gloriously rich, spicy and sweet malt whisky is one of four new duty-free exclusive Highland Park drams launched at this year’s TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.

The distillery’s whisky maker Max McFarlane delved deep into Highland Park’s enviable stocks of sherry-seasoned casks to create these four new expressions (the others being considerably younger, 1988, 1994 and 1973).

The whiskies will be coming to an airport near you from April next year with supplies likely to last around two years. Each variant will then be replaced by a vintage of a similar age.


RECOMMENDED
Speyburn

Bradan Orach

An affordable travel-retail exclusive for once, also released in Cannes, Speyburn Bradan Orach takes its name for the Gaelic for ‘golden salmon’.

Romantic names aside, here are the details that matter. Bottled at 40% abv and priced at £20.99, Speyburn Bradan Orach does not bear an age statement, but is nonetheless a very decent Speyside malt with a bright, golden-amber colour, a balanced flavour profile and long, lingering finish.

Available in a one litre bottle, Speyburn Bradan Orach will be in duty-free stores from November this year.