World’s Best Duty Free Scores Slideshow
French cheeses, fig preserves, and foie gras may sound like prohibitively expensive gifts, particularly when they’re from famed gourmet brand, Hédiard. But passing through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, travelers can find fantastic prices on all of the above. As a brand, Hédiard has taken travel retail to the next level, with concept cafés in certain airports and expanding their reach from the Caribbean to the Middle East. So bringing home a sumptuous jar of duck foie gras and Provençal apricot jam is totally within reach.
Flickr/Hotels Paris Rive Gauche
Just a few months ago, The Glenlivet released a travel retail exclusive so coveted, the master distiller himself, Alan Winchester, was on-site at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to sign bottles at the launch. The Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve is available only in the UK for now, but is set to expand its global reach soon. They mature this single malt spirit in three different types of wood to give a distinct flavor. Considering its exclusivity, this would make a perfect host or holiday gift for any whiskey lover — from aficionados to amateurs.
Buying gourmet chocolates abroad is certainly not a new concept. And snapping up those luscious dark squares of Valhrona chocolate at European airports has long been a worthy (and very affordable) pursuit. They are one of the few major chocolatiers with a real dedication to their travel retail sector. So this month, they’re launching their latest Grands Cru, called “Discovering a World of Taste.” The set, exclusive to travel retail, includes four, single-origin chocolates from four different regions — the Caribbean, Madagascar, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. They’d make a great gift if you can actually resist tasting them in-flight.
When you tell someone that you’ve brought something back for them from your travels abroad, it can be pretty lackluster when they open something they could have bought for themselves just down the street. So, when in Montreal… take advantage of their special duty free prices on Montreal maple syrup. In Concourse B, you’ll find an entire shop dedicated to the sweet syrup, while savings can also be had on maple syrup-infused Canadian whiskey. You can’t get that anywhere else. (Or at least not for the price!)
What started as a duty-free exclusive has now made its way into a select range of specialty whiskey shops, but Jack Daniel’s Silver Select (in their single-barrel range) is still not easy to come by outside of airports. It is a single-barrel whiskey that is said to have been hand-selected by the brand’s master distiller, Jeff Arnett, and each bottle is marked with a barrel number and bottling date — the perfect gift for the curious (and knowledgeable) whiskey drinker.
If the real purpose of traveling (for pleasure, anyway) is to immerse oneself in the local culture, then there is no better place to discover Greek wines than… in Greece. Often a confusing array of bottles with exotic grape varietals, they can be hard to pin down, but that doesn’t make good Greek wine any less delicious. Athens International Airport’s Hellenic Duty Free sells a wide range of the best in Greek wines, meaning you can pick up your favorite on the way home and let friends and family in on just one of the myriad flavors of your Greek trip. If you’d rather branch out in other ways, the shop also sells locally made Greek honey, olive oil, and cheese.
Expanding its reach far beyond the flagship Paris boutique, Ladurée macarons are not only available in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports, they opened a pop-up shop in Heathrow Airport earlier this year, as well as a new store in New York City. Loved by travelers around the world, they offer special packaging, a full range of flavors, and great prices in their duty free shops. A jewel-toned box of perfectly prepared cookies is a great indulgence for the flight, or that sweet gift upon arriving home.
Like maple syrup in Montreal, mole sauce is a much-loved local specialty of Mexico. Picking up a jar of mole sauce on your way home for someone who loves to cook, or to keep the flavors of your holiday going long after you’ve returned, is easy at Mexico City’s airport. Shops like Chocolate Mayordomo sell an array of mole sauces at great prices. (They also sell locally made chocolates.)
Unveiling new bottles all the time, featuring various artists’ work and with a wide range of themes and concepts, Swedish vodka brand Absolut is a collector’s dream. They’ve recently released two new bottle designs that are exclusive to travel retail shops — the Watkins and the Crystal Pinstripe. Launched in January, the Watkins bottle has a whimsical illustration and is flavored with coffee and almond, while the Crystal Pinstripe launched this month in Stockholm and is made of hand-blown crystal from Sweden.
Courtesy of Absolut
New World wines, like those from South Africa, have been competing on the world’s stage against Old World regions for some time now. And wineries like Deetlefs, Hidden Valley, and former pro-golfer Ernie Els’ wines represent the country well. Some are available at specialty distributors in the U.S., and all are sold throughout South Africa, but now you can buy nine prized South African wineries’ wares from duty-free shops in Asia. Sample Ernie Els’ wine on an Asiana flight, try a glass of Avondale wine on Cathay Pacific, and taste Deetlef’s wines on a Bangkok Airways flight before buying them all in travel retail shops throughout Asia.
Sampling the traditional Turkish sweet in Turkey is a must, whether you’re just passing through or are spending time in the country. At a number of shops in Itanbul’s Ataturk Airport, travelers can find authentic Turkish delight, but no shop gives you the same feel (or variety) as the Old Bazaar. Bring a box of the real deal home for a loved one, but make sure to try some for yourself while you wait for your flight, with a strong Turkish coffee to wash it down.