The Irish have always had a close connection with duty-free. The first duty-free shop opened in Shannon in 1947, providing a welcome diversion for bored transatlantic passengers waiting for their flights to re-fuel.
More than half a century later and the Irish Diaspora is now helping to run airport shops from as far away as Bahrain and Montreal. Irish travel-retailer Aer Rianta International is also involved in a joint venture to the run duty-free shop at Kiev’s Boryspil airport in the Ukraine.
This bright and spacious store, which is situated in the departures hall of Terminal B, has a lot to offer the itinerant whisky enthusiast. It transpires whisky is easily the biggest liquor category, outselling both local and imported vodkas.
More than 75 different whiskies are stocked. The only surprise is that the Irish management hasn’t converted more travellers over to its native whiskey – that sub-category only generates about three per cent of liquor sales.
In fact, the four most popular drams are all household names: Johnnie Walker Red, Chivas Regal, Jameson and William Grant’s. More exclusive whiskies on sale include Ballantines Limited at €135 (£91), Johnnie Walker Blue at €115 (£77.45), Midleton Rare at €75 (£50.50) and the hard-to-find Chivas Revolve at €58 (£39).
Malts account for only about four per cent of spirit sales, but the range is still solid. The highest priced brand on offer is Glenfiddich 30 Year Old at €150 £101).
Discount promotions of any sort are a big hit with local travellers – in the autumn the store will be running a ‘Buy two litres of Chivas Regal for €42’ (£28.30) offer, giving customers a saving of about €10. There will also be a ‘Three for Two’ deal on all standard whiskies.
For more information contact the genial store manager Domnick O’Reilly personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
27 Year Old
This multi-award-winning malt from Angus Dundee’s Tomintoul distillery is everything a Speyside whisky should be –gentle, but also rich and complex.
Better still, for a whisky of its age and quality, it is priced modestly.
Tomintoul 27 Year Old is deep amber in colour with a rich round nose, sweet palate and a gloriously long, full finish. Bottled at 40% ABV, it comes with a gift canister and is available in a standard 70cl size priced attractively in duty-free at about £50.
Find this whisky in leading European airport stores.
First Fill 12 Year Old
This quirky twist on the world’s second most popular malt whisky, which was launched last February, has deservedly picked up gold medals at last year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition and this year’s International Spirits Challenge.
Brand owner Pernod Ricard is understandably chuffed at this haul. The Glenlivet First Fill 12 Year Old remains a travel-retail exclusive available only to passengers travelling within the European Union. It is priced at about £24.99.
Matured only in first fill ex-bourbon casks, this whisky is gold coloured with a fresh, fruity and floral nose with notes of orange marmalade and fruitcake. The taste is soft with a distinct and spicy undertone, while the finish imparts an oaky, nutty flavour. If you are a Glenlivet fan or know one, this is well worth a try.