Following the highway to duty free in Japan

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

News reaches The Moodie Blog that a ‘Shinjuku joint’ in Japan is to offer karaoke alongside duty free shopping (see news clipping below). News also reaches The Moodie Blog that Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits has launched a premium cannabis-flavoured vodka in travel retail called Shotka.

Both, I assure you, are not April 1 stories come early and both, I equally assure you, are not related. Though if I was Kevin Baker (pictured below), Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits’s newly appointed Global Travel Retail Director (one of the industry’s good guys and, until recently, Global Head of Liquor and Head of Category Europe for Liquor, Tobacco & Technology for The Nuance Group), I’d be beating a path down to the said Shinjuku joint to inform them, “Boy, do I have the perfect house brand for you!”


At this stage I do need to clarify that Shinjuku is a ward of Tokyo rather than a spliff, one where a Karaoke bar operator called Shidax is opening a complex for overseas visitors that will serve sushi (you might need to watch out for the seaweed), offer wi-fi (no doubt with its own hashtag), host private karaoke rooms (house tune ‘Higher and Higher’) and a drugstore (no, not that type of drug). The latter, to be serious, will carry items such as hair dryers and watches that can be purchased duty free and shipped to airports or nearby hotels.


Now everyone knows that you shouldn’t sing Karaoke unless you’ve had a few drinks, right? Not so much because it helps your singing (it doesn’t) but because it means you don’t care. And hey, if a shot or two of… er, Shotka makes you feel even less worried well…. well then, hey man… relax.

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But beware Kevin, you need to move fast. The big boys of the drinks industry will be right behind you. I can see, for example, a quirky company such as William Grant & Sons launching their own Cannabis-flavoured gin, named Bogart, inspired by an immortal line from a modern-day remake of Casablanca when heroine Ilsa Lund accidentally bumps into the spliff of a suitably pot-bellied Rick Blaine and badly burns herself.

Says Rick: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Personally I’ll stick to smoking a good Habanos, such as a Partagas No 4. And duty free shopping or no duty free shopping, cannabis-flavoured vodka or not, you won’t catch me singing any Karaoke tune. Because if I do, you won’t smoke the joint, you’ll flee it.



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