Duty Free Alcohol
You may be surprised to see the section on wine before that on spirits, but you’ll see why a bit later on.
For me, wine is probably the most difficult Duty Free category, whether to research in advance or to evaluate in store. The vintage year is often not shown online. The display conditions can be far from ideal – bright lights, heat, upright bottles. Plus, Duty Free prices vary widely – from attractive to vastly overpriced – depending on your frame of reference.
If you ever needed a good online price comparison website/app, it’d be for wine – and I‘ve found one. It’s called Wine Searcher. It’s global, accurate, and up-to-date – a “must have” for any wine lover.
Varying bottle sizes complicate comparisons. Domestic is usually 0.7 liters while Duty Free is 1 liter, so bear that in mind when you compare prices.
You can usually find prices online. So like fragrances, it’s relatively easy to research prices in advance.
The benchmark brand is Johnnie Walker Red, and this chart shows a Duty Free vs. Domestic comparison:
Generally speaking, Duty Free is a good deal when you leave home, except in the Czech Republic and Germany. Similarly, the Duty Free prices at all the airports are lower than all the Domestic ones, except for the Domestic prices in the Czech Republic and Germany.
By the way, the Wine Searcher site I mentioned also works for spirits and is why I’ve shown wine first.
You can buy spirits on arrival where Duty Free arrival sales are permitted. You might also be offered Tax Paid goods on your arrival or for home delivery. But shipping charges could wipe out any potential savings.
Airlines carry a very small range of spirits, and more often than not, they don’t carry Johnnie Walker. So you’ll have to research by individual brand.
Explanatory notes:Read More
All the Duty Free prices mentioned here were observed on the internet during August/September 2018.
Domestic spirits bottle sizes are generally 0.7 liters, although the US uses 0.75 liter bottles (a fifth of a gallon) as apparently does Canada. In Duty Free, the most common size is 1 liter, although Sydney and Singapore sell certain spirits in 1.125 liter bottles – just to make things interesting. Actually it’s because Australian and New Zealand allowances are a multiple of 1.125 liters. All the prices shown here were converted to 1 liter equivalents.
The Domestic Johnnie Walker prices are the average of the 5 lowest prices on Wine Searcher converted to a 1 liter equivalent and using Wine Searcher’s Dollar quoted prices.
All other exchange rates were taken from the XE exchange website on September 24, 2018.