Travel Retail

Whisky sales take off at Colombo airport

Joe Bates heads tothe Indian subcontinent tolook atSri Lanka's main airport.
By Joe Bates
Demand for Scotch whisky across the Indian subcontinent is booming as never before.Duty-free stores across the region have been experiencing record sales as local travellers lucky enough to have disposable income to burn take the opportunity to grab a bottle of the real stuff at realistic prices.Colombo Bandanaraike airport in Sri Lanka is a good example of the trend. Malt whisky sales there are growing at more than 75 per cent per annum and with prices up to 50 per cent cheaper than the domestic market it is not hard to see why.Demand is being driven by local travellers rather than ex-pats, forcing the shop operator to broaden its range from the Speyside favourites of Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie and The Glenlivet of old to include the likes of Bowmore,Bunnahabain, Glengoyne,The Dalmore, Longmorn and Tomintoul.The assortment also now boasts high-end references such as Glengoyne 35 Years Old Spirit Safe at $499 (£251),Bowmore 30 Years Old at $695 (£353),Tobermory 32 Years Old at $199 (£100) and Bunnahabain 25 Years old at $399 (£201).There are always plenty of promotions on offer for more price-conscious customers, recent deals in the departures store have included Buy Two,Get One Free on Johnnie Walker Green Label and Jack Daniel’s.Airport arrivals shopping is big business in this part of the world so be sure to check on the offers in the airport arrivals store too.Recent promotions have included discounts on Diageo’s Classic Malts Selections and Johnnie Walker Gold Label, as well as a free 20cl bottle of Chivas Regal 18 Years Old for every bottle of Chivas Royal Salute 100 Cask Selection sold. Best Buy The Balvenie Single Cask 1970 French airport retailer Aelia has an excellent track record in stocking exclusive bottlings and this latest launch will certainly arouse the interest of collectors.The Balvenie Single Cask 1970 is limited to only 191 bottles, all of which can be found on the shelves of Aelia’s shops at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.The price tag of course is steep, but for about £509 you are getting a superbly complex, sherry-rich malt whisky nicely presented in a hand-filled bottle bearing the original cask number and housed in a handsome gift case.If work or pleasure takes you to the French capital, this rare release is well worth tracking down, but don’t expect stocks to last long. Recommended Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet 1976 Vintage If you are a signed-up supporter of the lighter,gentler drams associated with the Speyside region, this latest limited-edition release from the Tomintoul Distillery could be for you.The 1976 Vintage is the oldest yet to be bottled by the distillery and is described as having a ‘wonderful nose’ with hints of rum-soaked raisins and a touch of fruity maltiness.The palate is said to be round, soft and sweet.Expect to pay up to about £200 for a bottle, but exact prices will vary.Travel-retail has been singled out as a key channel for this expression so leading European airports should have it on their shelves.