Whisky really comes into its own over the winter months, when temperatures drop and thoughts turn to warming drams in front of cosy fireplaces.
As the days grow colder, guest writer Laura Cavanagh shares five of her favourite welcoming whisky spots in Edinburgh – from low-key locals to cool city centre haunts, there’s a bar to suit all tastes.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has opened a new public whisky bar at its 28 Queen Street venue. There are over 200 whiskies on offer at Kaleidoscope, with a constantly changing menu of whisky flavours to explore. The SMWS only bottle from single casks, so each cask is unique and – by definition – a limited edition. There will always be something new to try at this elegant option.
28 Queen Street, EH2 1JX – smws.com/kaleidoscope
A charming Edinburgh institution, Bow Bar is perched halfway up the cobbled Victoria Street within walking distance of the Castle. The staff here have a wealth of knowledge on whisky – which is a good job, really, because they have more than 300 Scotch malts on offer. Displayed in a high mahogany gantry behind the bar, the Bow also offers a selection from Ireland, Japan, the US and (legend has it) even Tasmania.
80 West Bow, EH1 2HH – thebowbar.co.uk
The Devil’s Advocate
From the chaps behind The Bon Vivant, The Devil’s Advocate is a beautiful Old Town bar that you’re unlikely to stumble upon by chance. The space is atmospheric, with a bare brick and wood interior and a number of cosy booths through the back, but it’s the selection of whiskies which are the real pull to Devil’s. They stock over 100 types from all over the world, including a few speciality whiskies. It’s the ideal place to relax and simmer away a couple of afternoon hours over a dram.
9 Advocate’s Close, EH1 1ND – devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk
Monteiths is an award-winning boutique bar and restaurant in the heart of the Old Town. Hidden away down a lane located just off the historic Royal Mile, it has a cool and cosy feel to it, with stylish mismatched furniture and romantic lighting. The well-stocked bar offers a range of regional whiskies, from Speyside and Highlands and Islands to Islays, plus a number of blended, American and Japanese drams. A rarity in Edinburgh – Monteiths attracts both locals and tourists alike in equal measure.
61 High Street, EH1 1SR – monteithsrestaurant.co.uk
Thistle Street Bar
An unassuming, cosy hidden gem of a pub, Thistle Street Bar has an excellent array of over 50 malt whiskies to choose from. Tucked away behind the busy shopping thoroughfare of George Street, this place has a laidback vibe with friendly, knowledgeable staff and an even friendlier crowd of local regulars. There’s a real fire, cosy seating and free wifi – what more could you ask for?
39 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY – 50mls.co.uk/thistle-street
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Main image: Scotch Malt Whisky Society