In 2014, the words ‘travel’ and ‘glamour’ rarely end up in the same sentence. Gone are the days of men in sleek suits and women in proper outfits ready to board a flight in style and then elegantly sip a whiskey from a real glass. Instead, we have velour tracksuits and cans of Bud Light. But there’s still one area where luxury prevails and the retro romance of air travel remains.
That delightful little corner of the airport is the duty-free section.
It’s a magical place where comically large Toblerone bars are stacked up next to local delicacies (like ostrich paté from South Africa) and expensive cosmetics. This tax-exempt, international land of goodies also stocks our most indulgent vices, like high-end tobacco products and top-shelf liquor. The selection is so vast that brands now create cigar collections and liquor lines sold exclusively at duty-free (or for “travel retail” in industry speak) shops. It’s enough to make you book a flight just for the chance to taste test the new Grey Goose VX (a blend of vodka and cognac) or sip on each of the whiskies in the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club collections.
And don’t pretend you’re not curious enough to test the claim that the freeze-filtered Smirnoff White is exceptionally smoother than its more commonly found counterpart. Suddenly, the TSA scans and endless check-in lines seem totally worth it. You might even be hoping for a long delay just to have more time to peruse the shelves. Luckily for you, we took out the guesswork and narrowed everything down the 12 must-try, exclusively duty-free liquor and tobacco items you can purchase now.
There’s really no time to waste, as some of these rare treats are only available for a limited time, such as Absolut Karnival, which celebrates the beauty and culture of Brazil. This special bottle — along with 25-year reserves, single malt exclusives and Chinese astrology-inspired cigarettes — can serve as the perfect present upon arrival or addition to a home bar. Suddenly, “glamour” and “travel” belong in the same sentence again.
Emily Sher is a contributing writer to The Daily Meal. You can follow Emily on Twitter @shershare.
Monteith’s Brewing Co. Beer
You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the skyrocketing ascent of craft beer. The only problem is that by its very nature, craft or "indie" beers often can’t cross state lines. Luckily, beer giant Heineken brought small batch taste to a wider market: the duty-free shop. Try this New Zealand brew and prepare to renounce your previous favorite.
Grey Goose VX
Vodka and cognac together? It’s so crazy that it actually works seamlessly. The pioneers at Grey Goose dared to make this cross blend a reality and even used influences from both in the bottle with its cognac shape and vodka transparency. We recommend trying it at the first Grey Goose concept store at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to get the full experience.