Go for the festival. Go for the sights. Go because it’s simply one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. But, whatever you do, don’t leave Edinburgh without sampling a drop of the uisce beatha – the water of life.
Take a trip to Edinburgh without sampling a dram or two, and you really haven’t experienced the city at all. Head to:
At the top of the Royal Mile, this fun visitor centre offers a fun tour of the history of Scotland’s golden nectar from the comfort of a trundling whisky cask seat! You end your tour in a glass-cased cube of a room, containing the world’s biggest whisky collection, all 3,500 bottles of it, and on to a fabulously stocked bar and shop. Tours from £13/£10. And don’t miss their excellent Amber Restaurant, which promises to pair its great whisky selection with its excellent, Scottish-inspired food.
One for the serious whisky aficionado. Become a member of of this club (whose Edinburgh club rooms are right next door to the Queen Street Travelodge) and you can sample the club’s rare single-cask expressions personally selected from Scotland’s finest distilleries. Great restaurants, special tasting evenings, and events throughout the year, in the Edinburgh, and atmospheric Leith docks locations. Membership starts from £122 a year.
Three great whisky bars
Recently crowned DRAM Awards’ Whisky Bar of the Year, this place is a perma-busy Royal Mile bolt hole. Its filling lunches (cullen skink, haggis, Arbroath smokies) will fuel you up for a day’s sightseeing, and its 300+ malts will ease your weary legs at the end of it all! And the Travelodge Rose Street is just a few minutes’ walk away too!
The Bow Bar
Tucked into one of the sinewy streets twisting into the Old Town’s heart, this is a gem of a pub, patronised by locals and tourists alike. Simple and stark it may be within, but the craic, the home-made pies, and the staggeringly impressive selection of malts make the Bow a cut above the rest.
One of Edinburgh’s oldest city centre hostelries, Doric’s been serving folk since the 17th century. Plenty of time to get it right, then! Doric simply serves great, hearty food, with over 50 malts to choose as aperitif or digestif! It’s close to Waverley station too, so it’s ideal for a welcome (or farewell) dram.
The closest distillery to Edinburgh, and one of the last men standing when it comes to lowland-produced malts, Glenkinchie is known as ‘the gentle spirit’. It’s a well-deserved moniker, for this sweet, fruity malt is one of Scotland’s lightest. This five star visitor attraction peels back the curtain on the mysteries and magic of whisky production. Tours from £8 (Glenkinchie is half an hour’s drive south: follow the A68)
Where to buy it…
A lovely old shop with a reassuring aroma of sweet, heathery whisky to greet you as you enter, Cadenhead’s independently bottled whiskies from each of Scotland’s five distinct whisky-producing regions, make this a reliable choice, should you wish to take home a distinctive souvenir that you just won’t find at home.
Surprisingly, for a visitor attraction’s shop, the Scotch Whisky Experience’s prices are the keenest we’ve discovered in the city. And the selection is vast. So whether you’re after a clean and straightforward Dalwhinnie 15, or a triple wood Auchentoshan, this is the place to try first. And the shop’s free to enter too.