Edinburgh has an amazing history which is soaked in the whisky industry. Andrew Usher, a whisky blending pioneer, gave the city a magnificent concert hall bearing his name and the Shore in Leith is populated by many a converted warehouse. There may not be a distillery creating whisky in the city centre but there are some outstanding places that you can go and enjoy a dram of the amber nectar. Here’s our list of the top 10 places to enjoy whisky in Edinburgh.
1. Usquabae Whisky Bar & Larder, 2 Hope Street
Since it opened, Usquabae has quickly developed a reputation as one of the city’s premiere whisky bars. With a range of malts that would even make the most devoted of whisky collectors grin it has some truly special bottlings and tasting flights available. The place to go if you’re dead set on finding a whisky older than yourself!
2. Amber Bar, Scotch Whisky Experience, Castlehill
An overlooked gem. The team at the Scotch Whisky Experience are so full of knowledge and enthusiasm, many an afternoon has been lost as they make recommendations and chat all things whisky with people from all over the world. A great place to start if you’re just starting out with whisky.
3. Teuchters West End & The Shore
This may be slightly cheating as we’ve managed to sneak in two pubs instead of one but it’s just too hard to separate these two classic bars! An often-overlooked whisky destination, both Teuchters bars have a great range of whisky from all over Scotland. Best of all, if you can’t decide what to have then why not try their famed ‘Hoop of destiny’ – a twist on an old fairground classic but where you win a dram at the end rather than an oversized cuddly toy.
4. Devil’s Advocate, Advocate’s Close
Tucked away just off the Royal Mile, Devil’s Advocate boasts over 300 whiskies from all over the world. The staff are happy to help and can make a mean cocktail. The best place in the city to round off a day of whisky sampling!
5. Kilderkin, Holyrood
Another overlooked bar with an unusual selection, the Kilderkin sits right at the heart of the city by the Scottish Parliament. If you’re lucky your visit might coincide with one of Jolly Toper’s tastings which are held here. They are some of the best value for money whisky tastings in the city and if you can make it along you certainly should!
6. Bow Bar, Victoria Street
The Bow Bar is a proper pub. Great drinks, great staff and a whisky list full of hidden gems. Based just off the busy Royal Mile, its one of the best places to go for an authentic pub atmosphere without heading out of the city centre.
7. Cannonball Restaurant and Bar, Castlehill
If you’re looking for something a bit more exclusive in your Edinburgh visit look no further than the Cannonball Restaurant and Bar. Their private ‘Glengoyne Room’ is available for hire for a variety of functions. A perfect location based right next to Edinburgh Castle.
8. Black Cat, Rose Street
The Black Cat bar on Rose Street has very subtly built up one of the best collections of whisky in Edinburgh over the years. There are lots of forgotten gems lining their packed shelves so be sure to have a proper look before ordering anything. A small but perfectly formed bar on one of Edinburgh’s most famous drinking streets, Rose Street.
9. Scotch at the Balmoral Hotel
If you’re looking to sample some of the more high-end whisky on the market, then Scotch at the Balmoral is the place for you. You’ll be blown away at their range – which is on full display behind a full wall-length cage.
10. Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar & Shop, SMWS, Queen Street
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has long had a mystique about their exclusive independent bottlings and you can now enjoy this yourself in their fantastic new bar. Spend your time picking the brains of their amazing staff whilst enjoying limited edition single cask whisky. If you like, why not become a member and you can check out the exclusive area at the top and their second venue, The Vaults in Leith?
About the author
Jason Thomson is a published drinks writer based in Edinburgh. He has judged several whisky competitions and has over a decade of experience in the drinks trade. He blogs at Edinburgh Whisky Blog.