Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Buy Whisky Duty Free

For those of us who are international whisky aficionados, there is no better way to get the best bang for our buck than shopping duty free. Often times, the true motivations behind our flights are temporarily forgotten amidst an atmosphere in which duties are gone and excellent deals are afoot. That being said, maximizing our value while expanding our horizons is not as easy a synergistic task as it appears to be. The following is a five step guide to shopping for duty-free whisky that may shed insight into making the right choices.

1) Know your budget and the rules:

Just because alot of people spend a fortune on duty free shopping doesn't mean you have to. To be sure your whisky purchase is truly a bargain, go online to compare prices. Sites such as, and can help you scour the Web to determine a reasonable price range. Incorporate this into your budget and figure out what you can actually buy and for what. But Ok, lets say you just made an amazing whisky purchase. Can you even bring that amount of alcohol back? Make sure to check with your country's alcohol allowance in customs before you make any purchase. There is nothing worse than getting the best deal on a whisky, only to find out that you have to pay the duties and taxes on it anyways. 

2) Know your currency 

This step is fairly self explanatory. Just remember when a label in the UK says 99, it is not 99 US or Canadian dollars. Its 99 pounds which is roughly equivalent to one a half times the cost of US and Canadian currency.

3) Know the location your buying in:
Where you shop can be as important as what you're buying. Look for goods that are made in the countries that have international trade agreements with the country in which you are purchasing duty free goods. Goods produced in these countries often have lower, or no duties at all.

Airports themselves are also important to consider. Dubai International Airport's duty-free shopping center had the most sales of any airport retail operation last year and was voted best duty-free shop among Global Traveler magazine readers for the past three years. On the other hand, San Jose airport simply does not have any duty free whatsoever; not the best spot to have as your final stopover destination. Also, in many European airports, you'll escape the value-added tax, an extra sales tax charged to locals that can add up to 25% to the price. Finally, different airports have different price margins. Research is by the far the best tool at your disposal.

4) Be flexible:

Try not to go into a duty free shop looking for that one whisky that you refuse to compromise on. It may just happen that you will end up paying very close to the same amount as ordinary retail.  Always go in with an open mind with respect to the kinds of whisky that are worth investing in.
5) Know your whisky 
Need we say more?


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