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Buying Whisky on the Road – A treasure trove in Johannesburg

11 August 2011 2,441 views Written by: Richard Barr

rich

Richard Barr is a member of the Whisky Israel tasting society , a blog correspondent at times,  and a good whisky friend and big whisky lover. From time to time he posts his notes and adventures on our blog. This time a bit about his experience of buying whisky in Johannesburg, SA. Great stuff. worth a read.

As my friends and family can testify, I travel more than a little bit for work, heading to some very interesting place around the globe. One question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion is “where do you buy your whisky on your travels?”

Everyone half expects to hear me say that I buy my whisky in the duty-free shops. And they’re frequently right, but not always. There are the obvious cities, like London with the likes of the Whisky Exchange, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and World of Whiskies Duty free, where the variety of whiskies is just too good to pass up. Then there other cities where one might think they were thrown back in time to the age of Prohibition in the USA. Thankfully I haven’t visited too many of the latter sort.
Then there’s Johannesburg. Most folk would expect the African city to offer a meagre selection of whiskies outside of duty free. In that assumption, they’d be wrong. In fact, the last place I consider buying a bottle of whisky is the duty free shop at the airport. It’s just expensive when compared to the range of whiskies one can buy in the city of Johannesburg. Tax & duty on alcohol in South Africa are low enough to make visiting a retail liquor outlet a must when visiting.

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I can hear you asking “So, where do you buy your liquid gold?” I like to pay a call on the Picardi Rebel store located at Village Walk Shopping Centre in Sandton. I would say that the selection of whiskies, both single malt & blend would do Scotland proud but Picardi Rebel’s selection isn’t limited to Scottish. They also have Japanese, American, Irish and South African. From Compass Box’s Spice Tree to Yamazaki, from Tyrconnell to Three Ships, they have it all, and more.

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Glenlivet 12-year-old is cheaper here than Duty free at the Johannesburg Airport, as is the entire Glenlivet range. However, my last purchase was a South African native; Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish; a real value at ZAR 145.00 (US$ 20.00).
If you ever happen to drop by Picardi Rebel in Sandton, tell them that Richard of Whisky Israel sent you. I won’t make a penny out of it but I’ll feel real good knowing I’ve passed on a whisky treasure in Southern Africa.

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Thank you Richard for the lovely post.

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  • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

    Great post Rich.
    thank you!

  • http://whiskybrother.com WhiskyBrother

    Being a South African and living in Johannesburg I frequent this store a lot! :) Their selection is without doubt one of the best in the city, but their prices vary; some are very good, especially their IBs, but some are very expensive compared to other local stores, particularly their core range.

    Bad news though, the store is soon to close down. The leases in the retail complex have not been renewed, and the property is going to be developed as offices. They have already started sending their whisky away to other stores in the franchise around town.Richard, next time you’re in Joburg let me know, we can have a dram and I can take you to some other stores if you like. Slainte.

    • Richard

      Sad to see this store vanish. However, I’m looking forward to taking you up on your offer. Perhaps I’ll get another blog entry out of it ;-)