Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

News from Norwegian Duty Free

March 24, 2009

For some reason or another the main Norwegian Duty Free stores have chosen April as the month for “change”. So in the weeks leading up to the magical date shelves will begin to empty and brands will disappear from one day to the next – all to make room for the new additions.

This is also the date when prices change, even thought there was a bit of a price jump just before Christmas (explained with the strong Euro), but no decrease for Scottish whiskies – despite the weak Pound. According to my information a couple of whiskies will increase a couple of NOK’s, a couple will decrease a bit while most stay the same as they are today.

On to the disappearing and new malts:

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Getting there…

February 15, 2009

…but dragging their feet. After the infamous, for us here in the far north, Rosengren-case, Sweden was forced to accept private import of alcoholic beverages for personal use. A short time thereafter the ESA (no, not the space agency – the EFTA/EEA Surveilance Agency) said that Norwegian rules also had to comply with this.

After dragging their feet for a while and trying their best to postpone the inevitable Norway finally said thei would “look into” changing the rules. They then spent almost a year looking into what needed to be done and just before Christmas they sent out the new rules for comments.

In short they will:

  1. make it legal to receive alcohol from abroad without applying for permission first
  2. make it legal to purchase alcohol from abroad and have it shipped to Norway
  3. allow travellers to bring as much alcohol as they want into Norway

as long as

  1. proper taxes are paid (as of 2009 it’s 6,07 NOK per percent and litre, plus VAT of course (25%))
  2. see point 1
  3. you pay if you have more than 1 litre with you. This litre is the duty free allowance, the next 4 litres can be declared and paid for with the simplified rate (260 NOK/litre) while anything above has to be paid for using the normal taxes (point 1)

Some regulations are proposed:

  1. Times for delivering the beverages are, usually, to follow the times set for the state run Vinmonopolet
  2. Delivery companies must register themselves as a “alcohol approved delivery company”, and employees must go through training for this.
  3. Delivery employees must be above 18 (for delivering beer or wine) or 20 (spirits) years of age
  4. Delivery employees must make sure the receiving party is above the apporved age (18/20) and not drunk at time of delivery

That’s the short version of what the government has used 46 pages to say. All comments must be received by the proper authorioties by March 5th, and after the proposal with be refined a bit and go before Parliament – hopefully before the summer break. Most likely the new rules will be in effect from January 1st 2010 – after that: On-line whisky retailers, here I come!

Whisky sales in Norway, 2008

January 29, 2009

Whisky has never really been “in” in Norway, that honour has been reserved for the French brandy, Cognac. But slowly it’s been building a following that drinks no matter what. This has been proven the last year, and specially after the infamous “Credit Crunch” started. According to the 2008-figures, sales of whisky increased by 1.5% while Cognac was down 5.5%. The sales of malts are up 2.8% to 91,722 liters in total, giving a malt share of 6.7% (up from 6.6% in 2007).

Of the top 250-brands of spirits sold in Norway in 2008, whereof 28 are whiskies and a mere 7 are malts. These 7 malts account for 47.5% of the total sales of malts in Norway. Not surprisingly the winner is Glenfiddich 12yo, with Glen Moray 8yo and The Glenlivet 12yo trailing.

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Norwegian News: January

January 3, 2009

A new year has dawned and the state run monopoly gives everybody a week’s respite before releasing the new products for sale. The official start date is Saturday 10th January. Not much to brag about in whisky terms this time, but then again January tends to be quiet time as everybody has spent all their money shopping for the Christmas hollidays. A total of seven items are marked as NEW, but one is an upgrade and one is a “down-grade”. I’ve used £1=10,4NOK as a rate of exchange for the price conversions.

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Purchasing whisky in Norway, Part 4: From abroad

September 16, 2008

Getting whisky sent to Norway from abroad is a perilous matter. Shourtly put it’s illegal, except when sent as a gift. Although this is about to change, as long as the ESA (EFTA Surveillance Authority – the body set to see to it that the EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) follow the rule of the EEA (European Economic Area) treaty – i.e. do what the EU says).

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Price gouging extraordinaire

September 2, 2008

Diageo Norway sent a bombshell into whisky circles when the newest price list for Vinmonopolet was released. Two malts in particular stood out like a sore thumb: Talisker 18 Years Old and Caol Ila 18 Years Old.

Previousy they had a price tag of just under 500 NOK (T18=499,99 NOK/£50.62 and CI18=484 NOK/£49), both quite reasonably priced, even when comparing to other markets. But when September came a shock was to come…

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Bruichladdich 2001 Vintage for Jon Bertelsen

August 20, 2008

Jon Bertelsen is the name of the importer of Bruichladdich whiskies in Norway, and due to some rigid use of rules (and no brains) Norway ended up with a very speical bottling of Bruichladdich that nobody else is getting. (more…)

Purchasing whisky in Norway, Part 3: Prices

August 4, 2008

As previously mentioned Norway isn’t the cheapest country for whisky in the world. It’s due to this the duty free prices in Norway are among the cheapest – but one or two deals are also available on the domestic marked, if you can afford them.

First a bit about taxes. A quick round up reveals the following taxes for spirits in five European countries for a 46%-bottle – (conversion rates are from october 2007): (more…)

Purchasing whisky in Norway – Part 1: Domestic

July 31, 2008

Norway has, as a number of other countries/states, a monopoly when it comes to off-sales of alcohol. A government-owned company runs a chain of stores covering the entire country, and all alcoholic beverages above 4,75% abv. can only be sold here.

The chain, called Vinmonopolet, will by the end of the year have 244 stores – this will result in 94% of the population not having to travel more than 30km to reach a store. Most of these are small stores with a extremely limited assortement (the smalles carry as little as six whiskies, whereof only one is a Single Malt).

In total just over 300 different brands of whisky are for sale at Vinmonopolet at the time of me writing this, around 200 of these are Single Malts (from Scotland, Sweden, Japan, France, New Zeeland, Wales and India). And this is where one of the advantages of the state run monopoly comes in effect – shipping.

If the whisky you desire isn’t available in your local shop they can order it for you, for no extra cost to you as a customer. It takes about a week (if the importer has it in stock), but who’s in a hurry when it comes to good whisky. So the whole 200 brands of Malt Whisky are readily available for the same price over the entire country – at the excact same price. Ordering can also be done on-line, but here a 30 NOK extra charge is added to every order and if you want it delivered by post of courier (limited availability) postage is also added.

A couple of quirks inside this system has emerged the last couple of years. Two stores (one in Oslo and one in Bergen) has been designanted “Wine Cellar Stores” and can stock priducts from a “special assortement-list”. This list mainly products that have in imported in small quantities (eg. two cases of whisky). To reduce the costs of a normal listing (where the importer might have to cover the costs of shipping a single bottle across the country) they can offer it to these two shops – thereby reducing the transport costs. At any time 10-20 whiskies (mainly Single Malts) are available in this way, but what these are is never published. It can only be discovered by visiting the two stores and seeing it with ones own eyes or calling the store and hoping to get someone who actually knows what whisky is on the line.

Some products on this special list can also be ordered by normal consumers, but is time consuming and not guaranteed to be successful. The list is supposed to be available in all stores, but the reality is that very few stores actually know this (or have ever heard of the list). If one gets ones hands on the list and want to make an order, it’s up to the importer to decide if he wants to sell to you. The method of ordering is to send an email to Vinmonopolet and tell them what one wants, where one wants to pick it up and who imports it. The whole process can take up to two or three months.

Visitors to Norway must remember that Vinmonopolet doesn’t take any forms of credit card as payment in their stores – cash or Norwegian debit card only. This summer a test project is under way, where 14 shops (with a high number of foreign customers) has been allowed to accept payment with credit card – these shops are located in areas that receive many tourists. The shops are located in: Hammerfest, Drøbak, Lillehammer, Nøtterøy, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Voss, Trysil, Stryn, Ålesund, Hitra and two in Oslo (Briskeby and Vika).

Getting whisky into the country from abroad, now that’s quite another kettle of fish.


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