Does duty-free Glenfiddich differ from the rest?Ask The Wine Ladies May 2010

Dear Wine Ladies,

Living in Vancouver I often visit Washington State for short holidays and bring back some duty-free. Over the years I have noticed that the duty free scotch whiskey does not taste as good as the regular scotch in the BC liquor stores. The alcohol content of the duty-free scotch is usually slightly higher than the BC bought product; but this can be mostly discounted by adding a little more water to the duty-free product. So doing a taste test of both products side by side, there’s no doubt there is a big difference. One of the brands I am talking about is Glenfiddich. I have asked the manufacturers of these brands about this, but they claim there is no difference. Thanks for your columns: I read them in every issue of 24!

Robert, Vancouver

Dear Robert,

Thanks for the great question. Indeed the products should be identical whether they are selling in duty free or at the retail level. If not, the company would be running a serious risk of confidence in the brand and ruin. The company Glenfiddich, has a stellar reputation and we were certain there must be some kind of explanation, which it turns out there is.

We approached a Senior Brand Manager for Glenfiddich in Canada, Lindsay Prociw and posed the question. Here is what she had to say ” anything labeled the same in Duty free as on store shelves in Vancouver, should in fact be the same product.
Glenfiddich 12 is bottled in Scotland and shipped out to different locations throughout the world with no difference to those shipped to Duty-free and those to Canadian Liquor Board stores” We further learned that the point of differentiation you mention, alcohol content is a true observation.
Lindsay went on to explain that Duty Free often has limited edition and exclusive products, which in this case includes a Distillery edition of Glenfiddich. This edition has a slightly higher alcohol content often referred to as “Cask Strength”, hence the appreciable difference in taste of the whiskey.

The Wine Ladies,

Georgia and Susanne


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