One of the pleasures of writing for a living is that whenever inspiration hits, one can simply grab the nearest pen and paper, and start scribbling.
There have been several instances when a flash of narrative or a general idea for a piece has struck me, and I’ve grabbed whatever is at hand to make a note.
In this case, however, dear reader, I’m flying across the globe—28,000 feet in the sky—to visit the whisky-loving people of Scandinavia. Our plane is equipped with Wi-Fi, a technological advance that I’m finding totally amazing; tweeting the world from some eight-and-a-half kilometres above the earth’s surface.
I do a lot of travelling, on all modes of transport. In fact, for my trip today, I’ve ridden the underground, monorail, train, a taxi and, finally, a plane. Later in the day, I’ll be boarding a ferry as well. Give me a bicycle and a spaceship and I’ll have just about covered every mode of modern transport.
One of the joys of travelling internationally is airport shopping. Most people loath the very notion of travel, but the bitterness of the pill is sweetened considerably by the goodies on display at most airport terminals.
From bags to watches, sunglasses to make-up kits, the modern airports have it all. But one area at which ‘‘global travel retail” excels is booze.
Whether you’re in the market for a special-edition bottle of Absolut, that extra special XO, or an unpronounceable Scotch, you’ll find many jewels awaiting your attention from Chicago to Changi and Delhi to Dublin.
But why is there so much to choose from for the international traveller? What reason do these drinks companies have for rewarding the man who traverses the globe? Well, the answer is simple.
Your international man of mystery will probably, on average, have more money in his pocket than most people. Although air travel has, globally, become cheaper over the past 10 years, a large proportion of those making their way across the skies are travelling on business.
If heading out to the Far East, a burgeoning place for trade, there is heavy influence placed on style, attitude and tradition, with gifting at its core. And there is no greater gift than something from the luxury sector.
From ultra-high-end blended whisky, such as crystal decanters by John Walker, containing some of the rarest Scotch known to man, through to cognac and brandy produced in the 1800s and bottled centuries later, there is something for every taste.
However, for that extra-extra-special gift, why not head over to Canada, to Vancouver International Airport, which has released something totally extraordinary: the oldest single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled.
At 70 years, distilled in 1940, this hooch, from the Glenlivet distillery in Speyside, will retail at 35,888 Canadian dollars.
An astonishing whisky at what seems like a very strange price. So why C$35,888? Well, for our friends in the Far East, gifts are very important. And so is their lucky number, eight. The three 8s at the end of the price make simple sense, but how about the main two numbers, three and five? Well: 3+5 = (yes, you’ve guessed it) 8!
So the next time you’re passing through an airport on your way to an important business meeting, don’t forget to pick up a nice gift for your host. And, if you land your big deal, indulge on the best gift of them all: one for yourself on the way back home!
Joel Harrison is a drinks writer and consultant and co-founder of the website Caskstrength.net. He is on Twitter at @ WeHeartWhisky
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