With so many Scotch whisky malts and blends out there (Scotland has over 100 active distilleries alone!), making the leap from ignorant gulper to connoisseur taster is no mean feat. Here’s a guide to getting on your way in Edinburgh.
A two-hour tutored whisky tasting at The Scotch Whisky Experience is a good place to start. There you’re guided through the five stages of Scotch whisky appreciation – colour, body, nose, palate and finish – by professionally trained staff. Hats off to those who can tell their Highlands from their Lowlands after sampling four single malts from each of Scotland’s four main whisky-producing regions (yep, you counted right: that’s 16 different whiskies).
Sadly Edinburgh’s only working distillery is closed to the public, but there’s a handful within striking distance of the city. Glenkinchie Distillery – 19 miles away – is the closest. The glass of 12-year-old single malt whisky you receive at the end of the tour is worth the 40 minute journey out alone.
Scotch is best enjoyed in a relaxing, informal environment, so head over to The Bow Bar just off The Grassmarket for a wee dram. This old-school alehouse’s remarkable collection of 150 single malt Scotch Whiskies saw it win the Good Pub Guide’s Best Whiskey Pub of the year award. Any person who manages to sample them all deserves an award of their own!
Finally, up your liquor cabinet’s pedigree with a visit to Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. No ordinary off-licence, it is run by enthusiasts more than happy to take the time to chat all things whisky and guide your selection.
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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…
(Image: Les Willis)