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Transporting/Sending Whisky to US from Scotland while Traveling

I just know that we will want to purchase a variety of souvenir whisky (the really special stuff) and glassware while on our trip to Scotland. Our carry-on bags will already be packed to the hilt so there will be no way to slip in glassware, much less bottles of liquid gold. Does anyone have suggestions for the best way to get these items home? I assume via shipping will be best. I suppose Scotland has pack-n-ship places as much as in the U.S. Any special concerns about shipping whisky? Has anyone done this?

Posted by
1829 posts

Several things about whisky and bringing it home. It is no cheaper in Scotland than in the U.S., and depending on the "expression" may even be more. You are allowed one bottle each that has to be placed in checked baggage. Before the goofy liquid restrictions we would bring back a bottle or two in carry-on but those days are gone. NO one will ship liquor to the United States. It just can't be done.

Your best bet for the really special stuff would be some of the Portland area liquor store. My favorite is the Tigard liquor store. You just can't ship liquor back here but you can bring back miniature bottles in your paranoia (3-1-1) bag.

As far as glassware is concerned, that is another matter. Some of the distilleries have gift shops that will ship. A few months ago I ordered som tasting glasses from Ardbeg. They arrived in a week in unbroken condition. Laphroaig will do the same.

I believe that covers it. Enjoy your trip. Oh, Clear Creek Distillery in Portland has just released their McCarthy's whiskey and you can find it in Oregon liquor stores for about $53. We drove to Pendleton last week to buy three bottles. Its as good as the run of the mill single malt from Scotland.

Posted by
340 posts

You are allowed to bring back 1 liter of alcohol per person duty free. You can bring more, but it will be subject to duty fees. My husband and I put bubble wrapped bottles inside extra large ziplock bags into our checked baggage and further surround them with clothes. We haven't lost a bottle yet :-) While it is true that prices in the US can actually be cheaper, some things you just can't get here..

Posted by
2515 posts

It is expensive to ship to the USA but most of the specialist whisky shops can arrange this for you. RoyalMilewhiskies and Caddenhead in Edinburgh are the places I use to buy most of my whisky, great selection there.
You could buy a bottle the airport when you leave but not sure what you will do if changing flights on the way home.All the airports in the UK have a great selection.

Posted by
340 posts

I'm right with Unclegus on this one - Cadenhead's is always the first stop after checking into our hotel in Edinburgh. We pick-up one of the mid-sized bottles that they fill there, so we have something to enjoy back in our room in the evening, plus a larger bottle (or two) to bring back home. And the hotel we usually stay in is literally right around the corner from Royal Mile Whiskies which we also visit.

Regarding purchases made at the airport shops, last year we picked up a bottle at Heathrow. The shop placed it in a specially approved sealed bag that allowed it to go on the plane with us as carry-on as long as the security seal was unbroken. I assume (I know that's dangerous) that as long as the seal remains unbroken, you should be okay if you have to change planes.

Posted by
5979 posts

You mentioned carryons (in which liquids would not be allowed anyway), but you can check a bag with some bottles. Must be carefully packed, but we've had wine and olive oil survive intact. Shipping it yourself has some state tax issues as well. Your state may have some restrictions.

If you buy duty free, note that if you change planes in the US, and exit and have to re-enter security, (it happens at some airports, especially if changing terminals) you may have a problem.

Posted by
662 posts

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone. We've kept that Tigard store in mind, Monte, but have yet to make it. Thanks for your tips on other spirits (I'll write you later about our plans and adventures on Islay). You're right, Mary, sometimes you just can't buy certain memorable items here in the states. There's nothing like drinking a dram out of a glass you brought home from your favorite distillery. I often bring bubble wrap with me and now I'll throw in some extra large ziplocks. I like the suggestion of getting a filled bottle in Edinburgh - we're going there after Islay and the Highlands/Skye. Since we'll have a car, it won't be a problem to lug souvenirs around with us. We have often checked one of our carry-ons that had olive oil, souvenirs and well-packed things of that nature while cramming the other carry-on and backpacks. I dread the day when the airlines no longer allow carry-ons of any size. The rumor is that allowable carry-on suitcase size is shrinking, thus forcing us to pay for checked baggage.

Posted by
5979 posts

Kay, we usually bring an empty duffle bag or buy a cheap one over there, to check on the way back. We fill it with the bottles cushioned with dirty laundry and other expendables. So, we still only have one carryon each on the way there. You could get a cheap hardshell suitcase there as well.

Posted by
662 posts

Ah, yes. The empty duffle trick. We could check one of the carry-ons and carry-on the duffel! Thank you!

Posted by
5562 posts

I agree with Monte that you can get a lot of interesting whisky's in the US these days. Some of the distilleries are now owned by big liquor companies that have extensive distribution channels. I tend to invest my carry home whisky $$$ in whisky that is less widely distributed. Ask at the distilleries that you visit to see if the particular single malt you want is available in the US. It's a good thing to do in general. I've found that many liquor stores in NYC don't stock a wide range of single malts, but are delighted to order them for you.

Pam

Posted by
5654 posts

...you can get a lot of interesting whisky's in the US these days....

While true, even some of the bigger US stores (e.g. BevMo) do not have a wide including the older single malts. While touring we stopped at the Glengoyne distillery and sampled the 10 year, 15 year and 21 year single malts. Returning to the States, I could only find a 12 year Glengoyne single malt.

Posted by
1829 posts

Edgar, They can distill it faster than you can drink it so just enjoy what you can.

Posted by
662 posts

We certainly wouldn't bring home a bottle of Laphroig that I can buy locally. Only unique items, for sure!

Posted by
5562 posts

Edgar, did you try asking your liquor store to order it? It may be that it's just NYC that makes this easy, although I think that Steve's Liquor in Madison WI had a good selection and they had someone who specialized in single malts and he was always interested in learning more. I think that they too offered to order for me. I'm not suggesting this for all single malts, as I do believe that many of the more singular, single malts don't make it to the US or out of Scotland for that matter! But the days of only finding Glenlivet, Macallan, and Glenfiddich are gone thank goodness!