Duty Free Alcohol

Duty Free Alcohol

Alcohol is the second biggest product category in Duty Free. Most retailers present their assortments online so it’s relatively easy to check availability and prices before you travel.

 

Spirits

Different bottle sizes complicate Duty Free vs. Domestic comparisons.  The Duty Free standard is 1 liter.  However, the Domestic standard is generally 0.7 liters, but it’s 0.75 liters in the US, Canada, and India. So bear that in mind when you compare prices.

Generally speaking, Duty Free liquor should be a good deal for you when you leave home, but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

If you live in one of the countries where spirits are very expensive like Malaysia, Ireland, Singapore, Thailand, Russia, India, or Norway, any Duty Free price will probably be a good deal for you. So you really don’t have to give it much thought.

On the other hand, if you live in one of the very cheap countries like Japan, Italy, Spain, or Germany, you’re generally unlikely to get a good deal in Duty Free, although there are a few exceptions.

But if you’re one of the majority who lives in a mid-priced country, you should definitely do some research.

So, if you know what you’d pay at home for what you want to buy, that’s a good start. But if not, you should find that out at some point before you actually make your purchase. Moreover, you should check Duty Free prices on your itinerary (if they’re online) as well as Domestic prices at your destination.

You may also want to check out a new magazine called Travelux for hints on and reviews of specialist wines & spirits worth looking out for in Duty Free.

To check Duty Free prices, you’ll find direct links to the retail offers of over 150 airports, airlines, and retailers in the Find Duty Free Online section.

If you haven’t had time to research Domestic prices until you’re at the airport, all is not lost.  Just put in the name of the brand in the search box below to find prices at home or at your destination (leave the vintage year blank.) If you’re searching your destination, ignore the online offers and limit yourself to physical stores like supermarkets and alcohol retailers.

How to use the search box  Read More

 

To give you an overall idea of what you’re likely to encounter in Duty Free, I’ve looked at prices of 4 major spirits categories at 25 major international airports. (See my selection criteria in the explanatory notes.)

Some EU airports offer the same prices to non-EU travellers (Tax Free) or EU travellers (Tax Discounted), which I’ve noted. Below are actual prices, from cheapest to most expensive.

Click the dropdown menu to select your currency for conversion in real time. The order of the converted currencies may look slightly off due to exchange rate fluctuations.


Standard Scotch Whiskey

The benchmark alcohol brand in Duty Free is Johnnie Walker Red Label.

Johnnie Walker Red Duty Free

      Local Currency Converted Currency
London HRW & GTW (non EU): GBP 12.00GBP|12.00
Zurich: CHF 18.00CHF|18.00
Miami: USD 20.00USD|20.00
New York JFK T7: USD 21.00USD|21.00
Brussels (non EU): EUR 19.80EUR|19.80
Hong Kong Duty Zero: HKD 170HKD|170
Geneva: CHF 22.00CHF|22.00
Dubai: AED 81AED|81
Singapore: SGD 31.50SGD|31.50
Bangkok: THB 700THB|700
Dublin (non EU): EUR 21.00EUR|21.00
Sidney: AUD 34.67AUD|34.67
Nice (non EU): EUR 22.30EUR|22.30
Rome (non-EU): EUR 22.40EUR|22.40
New Delhi: INR 1760INR|1760
Moscow Domodedovo: EUR 23.00EUR|23.00
New York JFK T1, 5 & 8: USD 26.00USD|26.00
Toronto: CAD 37.00CAD|37.00

Of the 25 airports I reviewed, eight don’t stock Johnny Walker Red:
Barcelona, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Tokyo Narita, Vienna.

In general, Johnnie Walker is a good deal when you’re leaving home, except for Rome, where Duty Free is significantly more expensive than what you’d pay at home – around $18.00.

On the other hand, London stands out as a particularly good deal, even for residents of the cheapest countries.

 

Premium Blended Scotch

Chivas Regal 12 y.o. Duty Free

      Local Currency Converted Currency
Miami: USD 33.00USD|33.00
New York JFK T7: USD 35.50USD|35.50
Bangkok: THB 1090THB|1090
Hong Kong Duty Zero: HKD 286HKD|286
Singapore: SGD 51.00SGD|51.00
Sydney: AUD 55.00AUD|55.00
Dubai: AED 137.00AED|137.00
Zurich: CHF 37.50CHF|37.50
Tokyo Narita: JPY 4200JPY|4200
Kuala Lumpur: MYR 168.63MYR|168.63
Frankfurt (all destinations): EUR 36.90EUR|36.90
Dublin (non EU): EUR 37.00EUR|37.00
Moscow Domodedovo: EUR 37.00EUR|37.00
Toronto: CAD 54.00CAD|54.00
London HRW & GTW (non EU): GBP 33.89GBP|33.89
Copenhagen: DKK 289DKK|289
Vienna (all destinations): EUR 38.90EUR|38.90
New York JFK T1, 5 & 8: USD 43.00USD|43.00
Brussels (non EU): EUR 39.90EUR|39.90
Nice (non EU): EUR 40.90EUR|40.90
Rome (non-EU): EUR 42.50EUR|42.50
Geneva: CHF 47.90CHF|47.90
Barcelona (all destinations): EUR 47.80EUR|47.80
Madrid (all destinations): EUR 47.80EUR|47.80

Surprisingly, Chivas is available at more airports than Johnnie Walker Red. Of the 25 airports, only New Delhi doesn’t stock Chivas Regal 12 y.o.

When you start going up the price and quality ladder, though, you actually have to become more careful.

At three of these airports (Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Gatwick), Duty Free prices are somewhat higher than the Domestic price in the home market.  And at four – Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo Narita – they’re higher by a wide margin. You’d probably be better off buying on your way back home or at your destination.

 

Popular Single Malt Whiskey

Glenmorangie Original Duty Free

      Local Currency Converted Currency
London HRW & GTW (all destinations): GBP 35.46GBP|35.46
Miami: USD 45.50USD|45.50
New York JFK T7: USD 45.50USD|45.50
Sydney: AUD 73.00AUD|73.00
Singapore: SGD 69.00SGD|69.00
Zurich: CHF 50.00CHF|50.00
Hong Kong Duty Zero: HKD 395HKD|395
New York JFK T1, 5 & 8: USD 51.00USD|51.00
Geneva: CHF 53.50CHF|53.50
Frankfurt (all destinations): EUR 49.90EUR|49.90
Vienna (all destinations): EUR 51.90EUR|51.90
Brussels (non EU): EUR 52.00EUR|52.00
Copenhagen (non EU): DKK 389DKK|389
Nice (non EU): EUR 52.50EUR|52.50
Rome (non-EU): EUR 53.50EUR|53.50
New Delhi: INR 4690INR|4690
Dublin (non EU): EUR 62.00EUR|62.00
Toronto: CAD 91.00CAD|91.00

Bangkok, Barcelona, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Moscow, and Tokyo Narita don’t stock Glenmorangie Original

The airport price comparison with the home market is a bit better with Glenmorangie than Chivas. Duty Free is more expensive than the home market at only a couple of airports (Frankfurt and Rome).

Again, London Heathrow and Gatwick stand out  as offering a good deal for residents of all but the cheapest locations (Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy, Miami.)

 

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VSOP Cognac

Martell VSOP Duty Free

      Local Currency Converted Currency
Dublin (non EU): EUR 62.86EUR|62.86
Sydney: AUD 105.00AUD|105.00
Frankfurt (all destinations): EUR 66.90EUR|66.90
Moscow Domodedovo: EUR 67.00EUR|67.00
Nice (non EU): EUR 67.00EUR|67.00
Rome (non-EU): EUR 67.50EUR|67.50
Singapore: SGD 102.15SGD|102.15
London HRW & GTW (all destinations): GBP 59.99GBP|59.99
Bangkok: THB 2280THB|2280
Geneva: CHF 75.00CHF|75.00
Dubai: AED 280AED|280
Vienna (all destinations): EUR 69.90EUR|69.90
Miami: USD 77.00USD|77.00
New York JFK T7: USD 77.00USD|77.00
Zurich: CHF 76.50CHF|76.50
Hong Kong Duty Zero: HKD 620HKD|620
New York JFK T1, 5 & 8: USD 80.00USD|80.00
Tokyo Narita: JPY 9100JPY|9100
Toronto: CAD 114.00CAD|114.00

Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi don’t stock Martell. Plus, Martell doesn’t seem to be available on the Indian Domestic market.

To complicate things, Martell is available in two versions in Duty Free – the usual VSOP and the slightly more expensive VSOP Red Barrel. However, in any event, it’s not a very good deal.

Duty Free Martell is more expensive than the home market price at Frankfurt, Miami, JFK, Rome, Narita, and Vienna.  In addition, the cheapest Duty Free price – Dublin – is still more expensive than the Domestic prices in Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the US.

 

You can buy Duty Free alcohol on arrival where arrival Duty Free sales are permitted.  You might also see some spirits on arrival in the EU, but these are Travel Retail – Tax Discounted or Tax Paid. In addition, you might also be offered home delivery, particularly in-flight, 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.

 

Wine

For me, wine is probably the most difficult Duty Free category to research in advance or to evaluate in-store.  Therefore, I’ve devoted a separate section to it – Getting a Good Duty Free Deal on Wine Isn’t Easy that I’ve posted in the What’s Happening section.

 

Explanatory notes: Read More