On the whisky trail in Edinburgh
On the whisky trail in Edinburgh
Over the centuries, Edinburgh has become renowned for its intellectual and scientific achievements.
Yet, the Athens of the north, as it is affectionately known, has played an equally significant role in transforming Scotch whisky into the global brand we know and love today.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Andrew Usher Jr, Scotland’s original Master Blender, married grain and malt whiskies together to produce a smoothly blended whisky-the first to be successfully marketed outside of Scotland.
With this forward-thinking, he and other pioneers put Edinburgh on the map as a producer and exporter of quality whiskies.
The best whisky shop in town
That tantalising malty aroma that pervades Edinburgh’s streets can also be attributed to Andrew Usher.
Sadly, however, the North British Distillery in Gorgie, that he co-founded, produces few bottles of whisky for public consumption these days.
The multi-award-winning Royal Mile Whiskies on High Street is one of the few places to stock it, and by happy coincidence; it is the first stop on our whisky trail.
This independent specialist boasts a stunning array of the world’s finest whiskies and spirits, including many rare malts and exclusive releases, and has a staff with expert knowledge to match.
Novice or connoisseur, you are welcomed with open arms.
The shop’s manager and staff love nothing more than sharing their passion for the amber nectar, and they will put everything into finding you the perfect bottle to suit your taste and price range.
The best whisky bars in the Old Town
Literally, a stone’s throw away from the shop is ThAdvocate Barvocate-Bar & Kitchen.
With plenty of bare brick, raw wood and old stone on display, the owners have made the best of the old Victorian pump house’ period features.
With over 400 Scotch and world whiskies on the gantry, and an alluring list of seasonal cocktails, this has to be one of the best places for whisky appreciation in the city.
Sweden, Australia, Japan, or Scotland, if you were of a mind, you could take your taste buds on the trip of a lifetime.
There is a whisky to suit every taste and pocket, ranging from £4.50 for a nip of Glencadam 10 yo to £150 for the rare Glen Scotia 30 yo, 1974 Rum Barrel Chieftains.
The best whisky bars in the New Town
Next stop, Queen Street!
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is one of Edinburgh’s most prized and prestigious institutions, and its Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar & Shop is one of the shiniest jewels in its crown.
With a choice of over 200 whiskies, including exclusive SMWS single casks, rare expressions, and a selection of proprietary bottlre really is something for everyone.
Light and delicate, fruity and sweet, spicy or peaty, the friendly bar staff are always on hand to guide you to the right dram.
Not forgetting an extensive list of signature whisky cocktails like the 1983 Old Fashioned (whisky with orange, a dash of Angostura bitters and sugar).
With a refined look, yet a relaxed atmosphere, it is a whisky lover’s dream! This dream can only get better if you hear a good story with a fantastic tasting with Once Upon A Whisky – Check out one of our whisky tours in Edinburgh or Glasgow.
What more needs to be said?
A Black Cat (Bar) crossing your path is supposed to bring good luck your way, and the one on Rose Street is no exception, especially if you are a fan of more obscure malts.
The quirky half-barrels on the back wall and a suspended gantry above one of the tables, give this intimate bar a rustic vibe, and the regular folk music only adds to the ambience.
The shelves hold over 100 bottles of whisky from every region in Scotland, and the staff are only too happy to talk about them in great depth.
Their passion for excellent craftsmanship and quality whisky is plain to see.
If not only bars, shops, and restaurants?
Finally, if you fancy taking your knowledge and appreciation to the next level, visit the Holyrood Distillery right in the heart of Edinburgh. A brand new whisky and gin distillery where you will have the opportunity to learn how these legendary spirits are made. They offer daily tours, suitable for all levels of curiosity. From the regular tour that allows you to discover all the details about whisky and gin production to more elaborated experiences such as masterclasses and tastings with one of the master distillers.
Two amazing annual whisky events:
The National Whisky Festival of Scotland features over 30 exhibitors from some of the most exciting names in whisky and with over 100 different whiskies to try – all of which are included in the ticket price – this is truly a whisky lover’s paradise. After a successful 6 years, with events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paisley, this year (2022) it will be at the wonderful cities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh on the 10th of September and the 10th of December respectively. Although, if you miss this one, there is always next year!
The Johnnie Walker Experience at Edinburgh’s Princess Street will be hosting a few fringe events. You can check their website here for more info about tickets and dates.
If you enjoy participating in whisky events, head over to our recent blog publication for information on other whisky festivals taking place.