Travel Retail

More than chocolates

Joe Bates heads to the land of confectionary to discover some whisky gems
By Joe Bates
Belgian Sky Shops is one of the longest running duty-free operations in the world.The company has been trading at Brussels airport for 50 years since the airport opened its doors in 1958 to welcome visitors to the World Fair, which was being held in the city that year.

Half a century later and the retailer is still going strong, running 30 shops at the airport. It sells a whopping 850 tons of Belgian chocolate a year, but my interest was sparked in a new shop called Epicure which Belgian Sky Shops has just opened in Pier A, which is the Schengen terminal. It is dedicated to malt whisky, Champagne, XO Cognac, fine wine and Cuban cigars.

Epicure is a bright, modern and spacious shop, which is easy to browse.The malt whisky offer runs to 150 different brands and if you want to pick up a top quality of French wine there are more than 300 to choose from, as well as 80 Champagnes. I have yet to get the full run down of whiskies stocked, but the best-selling line after just one week of trading is apparently Lagavulin 21 Years Old at e138 (£109) so clearly the selection is geared towards the serious whisky collector.

Current price promotions on more affordable whiskies in the terminal’s main store include 10 per cent off Auchentoshan 12 Years Old at e30.95 (£24.40), 20 per cent off The Singleton of Dufftown at e28 (£22) and 10 per cent off Bushmills Original at e18.05 (£14.22).

My advice though is to give Belgian Sky Shops a call before you travel to see what more interesting lines they have in stock at Epicure.


BEST BUY
The Balvenie

1964

If any readers out there has very deep pockets and travels to Hong Kong on a regular basis, then this could be the release for you. William Grant & Sons has teamed up with Hong Kong airport concessionaire Sky Connection to offer 151 bottles of an exclusive and very rare The Balvenie whisky.

The Balvenie 1964 is described as having “an amazing depth of flavour, characterised by sweet infusions of dried
tobacco leaf and rich fruit cake, complex layers of dried fruits, ground coffee, walnut and elegant oakiness”. Sounds incredible, and as you’d expect for a whisky with a £7,100 price tag, it is handsomely packaged in a cherry wood gift box.


RECOMMENDED
The Glenrothes

Robur Reserve

The current craze for travel retail exclusives continues, and while not every release is a winner, fans of The Glenrothes should definitely track down this newly launched whisky from this fast-growing brand.

The Glenrothes Robur has been matured in first-fill Spanish sherry casks and is pale and golden in appearance; fruity and bright on the nose with plenty of dried fruit and clove on the palate. It has a smooth, sweet finish.

This is the first The Glenrothes to be released in a one litre bottle and will be available globally at major airports, priced at about £40.