Some are cave-like and rustic, while others sport trendy interiors and live music. But they all have one thing in common – a selection of over 200 different variations for your choosing.
To many, the Scottish Malt Whisky Society’s headquarters feels like the home of all Scotch. That’s, of course, a subject for extensive debate, but beyond doubt is the appeal of its new Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar and its dedicated, knowledgeable staff equally at home welcoming aficionados and new-comers. With over 200 different drams to choose from, its carefully curated selection is designed to educate its patrons in the subtleties of this golden liquid.
If you’re worried about tackling a round of whiskies on an empty stomach, then head to Amber, the restaurant inside Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience. Their dedicated Scottish menus are changed seasonally and would be worth making the trip for in their own right – this is some of the finest produce sourced from around the nation. That said, the dishes are also a perfect stomach-liner ahead of trying one of the 444 whiskies kept on-site, or before you join one of their famously fascinating tours.
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Whether it’s your first or hundredth time visiting Edinburgh, it seems almost impossible to avoid the city’s much-loved Royal Mile. Already incredibly popular, it’s set to be given a further PR boost when it appears in the Avengers: Infinity War movie in 2018. If you’re looking for a wee dram away from all that big drama, then seek out The Devil’s Advocate, a trendy, modern whisky bar in the heart of this UNESCO-protected part of Edinburgh’s fabulous Old Town. They keep over 300 bottles of the good stuff behind the bar, and have quickly developed a reputation for their whisky cocktails, too.
From the outside, The Pot Still looks pretty unexceptional: a classic ‘wee old-man pub’ in the heart of Glasgow. Inside, however, is an Aladdin’s cave of whisky, impressively crammed into the old watering hole. The selection is stacked so steeply that barmen have to use a ladder to reach the upper bottles, or simply scale the shelving. Busy almost any night of the week, it feels like a Glasgow of the past, kept alive for the fortunate present.
5. Bon Accord
Found near Charing Cross and the thundering M8 motorway, Bon Accord perhaps doesn’t get the foot-fall of many other Glasgow bars. This is great news if you’re planning a visit: less queueing time to have a run at the 800-plus real ales they stock through the year, and the 400-plus whiskies they have to hand. Few other pubs of any type have quite the same array of booze as the Bon Accord, which has rightly been crowned UK Whisky Bar of the Year (2014) and National Winner Independent Pub (2015).
Just off the iconic George Square in Glasgow’s lively Merchant City, The Piper Whisky Bar gets more than its fair share of visiting tourists. Aside from being conveniently located near to some of the city’s most popular attractions, as well as being close to the bustling Queen Street Station (the main rain link to Edinburgh) the crowds come for the nightly live music, the traditional Scottish menu – and the 200-plus whiskies, of course.
– TEXT BY JAMIE LAFFERTY
PHOTOS: THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY KALEIDOSCOPE BAR FACEBOOK, THE SCOTCH WHISKY EXPERIENCE FACEBOOK, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE OLD TOWN FACEBOOK, THE POT STILL, BON ACCORD FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.