We all love a bargain, but it’s nice to splash out and treat yourself sometimes, especially when it comes to having a hard earned drink at the weekend.
With that in mind, we asked Chris Hoban – from independent Edinburgh off-licence Drinkmonger in Bruntsfield – to tell us where we can sample some of the rarest and most expensive alcoholic beverages money can buy in Auld Reekie.
“There’s something quite exciting about drinking rare and old drinks. It makes it something extra special if you are one of only a handful of people that gets to taste something. It’s this that makes single cask whisky, small batch gin, bespoke beers and all those other rare drinks extra exciting.”
“One of the best gin bars in Edinburgh is 56 North and it stocks over 200 gins. They run gin masterclasses, make brilliant cocktails – there’s a fun list and a serious list – and their staff are all really into gin. They also have a few really rare gins.
“Monkey 47 Distillers Cut – Each year, Monkey 47 take a small batch of bespoke gin and mature it in clay pots buried in the Black Forest for a year to allow the spirit to infuse with extra botanicals. This is one of only a few thousand bottles.
“Christopher Wren Gin – This one is produced by one of the most knowledgeable gin makers, Tom Nichol of Tanqueray fame at the City of London Distillery. The gin is produced in very small batches and is very fruity, with particularly orange notes. The bottle at 56 North is batch one, bottle 107 of 200 bottles.
“Death’s Door & East London Liquor Collaboration – One of only 150 bottles, created by the folks from East London Liquor using their wheat distillate, infused with signature botanicals from the Death’s Door Distillery of Wisconsin. A lovely, dry, direct and powerful gin.”
2-8 West Crosscauseway, EH8 9JP – fiftysixnorth.co.uk
The Black Bull
“Firstly, the Black Bull is a really cool place to have a drink, listen to rock and play pool. Secondly, they have some pretty unusual American whiskeys at pretty great prices.
“Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old – It seems anything to do with Van Winkle is really difficult to get in the UK these days, so if you want to try Pappy’s younger brother Rip, head along to the Black Bull. It’s not even all that expensive.
“Other seriously unusual American whiskeys stocked here include Koval from Chicago and Angel’s Envy Rum Finish.”
43 Leith Street, EH1 3AT – theblackbull-edinburgh.co.uk
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
“Pretty much the epitome of rare, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottle single cask whiskies, cognacs and rums meaning that each bottling is one of a finite number. In the past these have included single cask Japanese whiskies, American whiskeys and more.
“Many of these bottles will never leave Edinburgh and for some the only way to try them is to head along to the SMWS bar on Queen Street, which is now open to non-members.”
28 Queen Street, EH2 1JX / The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, EH6 6BZ – smws.com
“Another great whisky bar is Usquabae below Ryan’s Bar in at the West End of Princes Street. Great food, cracking beer, and an impressive list of whiskies, ranging from £5 to upwards of £200 a dram.
“If you are looking to really treat yourself to something super rare, they have a 1950 Macallan, a 1936 Mortlach, a 1967 Rosebank and many more.”
2-4 Hope Street, EH2 4DB – usquabae.co.uk
“If you’re looking for rare beers, BBQ food bar Spit/Fire is the place to go. Here they have a beer cellar where they are ageing some pretty rare beers, so if you feel like treating yourself you should check out the full list.
“Highlights include Alesmith (quite difficult to get in the UK), Sierra Nevada & Russian River collaboration Brux – Russian River is pretty much impossible to get in the UK in any shape or form – Pilot Double Mochaccino (cracking stout from a small Edinburgh brewer, which is very rarely bottled) and Siren Odyssey Batches – released yearly and as rare as hens’ teeth.”
26b Dublin St, EH3 6NN – spitfirebars.com
“Finally for wine, Divino Enoteca has an unbelievable list of wines to sample by the glass and some rare vintages by the bottle. Including a Timorasso 2014, made with an extremely rare aromatic grape from the Alto Adige and Piedmont regions of Northern Italy.”
5 Merchant St, EH1 2QD – vittoriagroup.co.uk/divinoenoteca/
Bramble, The Last Word and Lucky Liquor Co
“Not only are these three of the best bars in the UK, but they have some pretty rare and unusual drinks including their bottled cocktail series. At Bramble you can pick up a bottle of their small batch, barrel-aged Affinity Cocktail, at Lucky Liquor you’ll find a bottle-aged Brooklyn and at The Last Word you can pick up a bottle of their Steel Aged Gin Cocktail – all available to drink in the bar or to take home.”
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Main image: Chris Hoban