Schiphol speciality store adds lustre to spirits business

The Moodie Report paid a visit last week to Finest Spirits & Cigars, Schiphol Airport Retail’s (SAR) high-end wines, spirits and cigars boutique – and discovered just why the Schiphol Group-owned subsidiary is building its reputation as one of Europe’s most progressive travel retailers.

The store is only open four months but already sales are ahead of budget, with Chinese travellers seeking extra special luxury items (mainly Cognac and Bordeaux wines) contributing 30% of turnover – a remarkable figure at an airport where passenger volumes are dominated by Europeans.

The allure of the store to Chinese, Russians and Dutch connoisseurs lies in the rarity value of many of the items, and the exceptional displays and presentations.

Among the items on show are a beautifully showcased Hennessy Berlutti XO Mathusalem (below); a Rémy Martin “Black Pearl” Magnum (the last one left anywhere, we’re told) and The Dalmore EOS 59yo, alongside a selection of rare and aged whiskies. The wine and Champagne offer is no less impressive: this includes a Dom Perignon Rosé Gold 1996 Mathusalem; a Krug Clos Ambonnay 1996; a full case of Domaine Romanée Conti 1998; plus exceptional vintages of 1990 Château Petrus, Château Margaux and Château Le Pin, as well as Château Lafitte Rothschild 2003.

The retailer has yet to embark on any major marketing of the store, and so far word of mouth among consumers has carried the message far and wide. The trade is also sitting up and taking notice. When Hennessy Cognac was seeking a launch partner for its limited edition €150,000 Beauté du Siècle this month, it looked no further that Schiphol, though it could easily have chosen an Asia Pacific airport to target potential buyers of this one-of-a-kind Cognac presentation.

SAR has played its own part in pushing the boundaries of the range. It led a collaboration between Whyte & Mackay brand The Dalmore and another Schiphol concessionaire, Gassan Diamonds, to create the €250,000 presentation for The Dalmore Brilliance Vintage 1926 – valued at €250,000 ex-VAT. This arrived in the store in December (pictured below).

Items such as these are not for every traveller clearly, but from what we saw during our visit, they do raise awareness and expectation among a certain type of traveller.

As SAR Director Peter-Jan Rozenberg told me: “With The Dalmore Brilliance and Beauté du Siècle we have two outstanding masterpieces. The speciality store in liquor is a growing trend at airports today, but it has to be about raising the level of the category, and the reputation of the industry. With these two editions, we are doing that.”

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