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Duty Free Only Scotches… WTF?

20 Nov

I’ll make this quick today. What in the world is up with Duty Free only scotches?

Lead in story: My poor buddy, Leone, is a freak for Laphroiag. He overpaid for a bottle of Laphroiag 18-year several months ago only to find the price reduced to almost half of what he paid in the market right now. Is he upset? Sure. Would he probably still have overpaid a little to get it earlier? My gut screams to the affirmative.

Which brings me to the Duty Free tease. He recently learned of a neat-o bottle of Laphroiag which only available in the the Duty Free retail. BEHOLD…

Laphroaig Triple Wood

Laphroaig Triple Wood (click this link to read a review that makes me want to punch someone). Sound interesting? You’re darn tootin’ it does! Laphroaig does not play much with its time-tested recipe and flavor profiles. But if you want to try it, you are going to have to travel internationally and cross your fingers that you run into it in your international airport’s Duty Free. Maybe that is no big deal for some wealthier Brits who are flying to Paris for the weekend, but for us Scotch freaks in the U.S., you have more chance of finding a bottle of Black Bowmore on the street unopened than stumbling across this one in a local retailer.

Highland Park 21-Year

Where do you think I got my uber-weird bottle of Highland Park 21-year? Leone accidentally picked one up for me on his way back from England a year back. It is actually the only Highland Park flavor profile that I would put a slight step up from Highland Park 18-year, which I consider their sweet spot on the spectrum (Highland Park 25 and 30 are rather dull to me).

I cherish my 21-year because I know damn well that the chances of me being able to replace it are slim to none. That’s why the bottle looks like someone opened it, scooped out a very large dram, and then never touched it again. *Single Tear*

So my message to the distillers is to knock it off. We know that you are playing with the market to dip your new flavor profiles’ toes into the market to see how they do without making an ass out of yourself when the critics pan it, but it is really frustrating to huge fans that just want to get their hands on a bottle without paying $1,200 for a ticket to England for a £40 bottle of hooch.

Will they knock it off? No way. I am just a sore loser.

If you want to read a little more about Duty Free, this article is a great start:


Letter: My Advice to an Uninformed Restaurant

15 Sep
I was a recent patron at your restaurant’s bar. First of all, let me tell you what an amazing location your restaurant is! An amazing view of the city and the Potomac River. My friends and I really enjoy popping in for an early evening casual drink.

I recently visited your establishment and skipped (almost literally) straight to the bar to scope out your scotch selection. As I had remembered before, you had the same blasé single malts (The Glenlivets of a few boring ages and finishes) and the expected blends (Johnnie Walker Red, Black, and Dewers *YAWN*). On my last two visits, this is was quite literally the only place in town that had Talisker 25-year (approximately $250 / bottle) on the bar for a reasonable price (approximately $25-27 per glass).
It is quite obvious where this is going; it was gone! Okay. I am not going to panic, I see a nice bottle of Laphroaig 10-year smiling at me on one of the upper shelves. Here is an artist’s rendition of the moment:

An amazing drawing of my Laphroiag memory

So I sigh at the lack of Talisker 25-year, and inquire of the price of the yummy Laphroaig 10-year. The elderly gentleman behind the bar informs me of the $22 price tag.
I politely asked him to repeat himself. Same answer. $22.
“I’ll have a beer, then.” $5.
A bottle of Laphroaig 10-year costs approximately $50 at a retail store. I am too lazy to calculate the mark-up on that price per glass, but WOW. Quite frankly, I was actually offended at that price. Just because it is a single malt, doesn’t mean that people are stupid and will empty their wallet for it. I would have paid as much as $15 out of desperation to go with the great view, but crossing the $20 mark was just offensive. Harry’s Tap Room holds this same dram at $8.50. Harry’s food and establishment (excluding your view) is leagues of classy above yours.
Please get your scotch act together. You are just embarrassing yourself out there. If you need some help, shoot me an e-mail. I may answer you. But then again, I really wanted that Laphroiag that you dangled in front of my nose before slapping me in the face with a dead wet fish.
Not so truly yours due to your scotch selections,
P.s. >:-Þ

Central Liquors in DC

8 Aug
So there I am, making a specific journey to Central Liquors in DC, when I see their old-timey neon sign poking from the side of their old-timey building.

What a cool place to swing through on my way to a friend’s I-just-quit-work happy hour at Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle. Their single-malt selection is fabled among some scotch whisky colleagues so I journeyed in to find their rightfully noted amazing selection (check it out here).
They have everything. Crazy amounts of Bowmore, an unheard of three different bottles of Ardbeg, four different Glenmorangie bottlings, every Laphroaig bottle I have ever coveted, several nifty Gordon and McPhail bottlings, etc. I was impressed to say the least.

Oh no, please don’t let their be a downside. There is a downside. But their should not be! But there is.

I have no idea why the prices were what they were, but every bottle was marked up nearly $20 above every price I have seen elsewhere! Say it ain’t so, Central Liquors! Your selection is so amazing–several limited edition bottles just sitting on the shelf for me to ogle!

Ah yes, but it is true.

A bottle of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban was listed for $70+! This bottle can be purchased at a Virginia ABC store for $49.99! What the heck, Central Liquors?

To the proprietors of Central Liquors: are you buying bottles from the Virginia ABC and then marking them up? Pearson’s Wine and Spirits is destroying you in the price factor. I love your selection, but your prices are ridiculously high and I have to rate you very low on my list.
…And with that, I go to bed. Sad and disappointed in a local retailer.