We catch up with the Idlewild frontman to find out why he finds Edinburgh so inspiring.
One of Edinburgh's most famous chefs tells us what he loves most about Scotland's capital.
03 May 2018
It will surprise no-one that Edinburgh is exceptionally well served by Whisky Bars. The scene has exploded over the last 20 years, with a variety to satisfy the most discerning of aficionados. From the winding streets of the Old Town to the majestic New Town and Leith, you're never far away from a great bar to enjoy a dram.
So, in no particular order here are a selection of the best whisky bars in Edinburgh.
Amber Restaurant and Whisky Bar @ The Scotch Whisky Experience
[Image Credit: The Scotch Whisky Experience, Facebook]
Situated on the lower-ground floor of The Scotch Whisky Experience, Amber Whisky Bar continues the mission of the must-see Edinburgh attraction to inform and impassion people about Scotch Whisky. The illuminated bar allows for superior visual assessment of the 380 whiskies+ on offer and a wealth of information is offered both by the interactive touch screen distillery guide, and via the more traditional method of chatting with the knowledgeable and friendly bar team. The food offering in this ‘Taste our Best’ accredited Restaurant is a highlight, from delicious Scottish tapas, to a full three course meal.
We love: The taste sensation of matching Whisky with Food under the expert guidance of Amber’s Whisky Advisors
354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE (website)
Devotees to the The Abbey Bar includes locals, professionals, students and visitors, all of whom find the welcome equally warm, and the selection equally impeccable. The 120+ range of Scotch Whiskies is served with pride and knowledge, and there are a few whiskies from further afield.
Complementing the whiskies is a full range of traditional beers, real ales, craft beers and lagers. This can be accompanied by traditional Scottish food, with locally sourced game a particular speciality.
We love: The stone’s throw walk to and from Edinburgh’s famous ‘Meadows’ park.
65 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh EH8 9PP (website)
[Image credit:Usquabae Whisky Bar & larder]
If you’re looking to enjoy your dram in historical surroundings of the Edinburgh Vaults then Usquabae is the place for you! With over 400 whiskies on offer, guests will be able to have a unique and unforgettable tasting experience. Supported by a local range of craft beers, fine gins and wine we are definitely a must visit for those who enjoy a tipple.
Not to be overlooked is their excellent food on offer as well. The kitchen team have created a menu which showcases the finest Scottish seasonal produce with modern twists. However they don’t keep the two separate! They are passionate in highlighting how well the flavours of different whiskies go with different dishes.
We love: Tutored tasting flights where their experienced and passionate bar team sit down and take guests through a range of whisky from newcomers to those with more experienced palates.
2-4 Hope Street, Edinburgh EH2 4DB (website)
The Albanach is a modern and welcoming venue, despite its location within a superb mediaeval building in a prime spot on The Royal Mile. The pub serves a range of freshly prepared Scottish dishes, including a delicious breakfast from 10am. More to the point of this article, The Albanach’s fantastic selection of 250 Malt whiskies includes a White Bowmore, several single cask bottlings, and a large selection of rare malts. There is also a huge range of other beverages including cask ales.
We love: Sitting outside watching the buzz of The Royal Mile go by on a balmy summer evening.
197 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PE (website)
[Image Credit: The Black Cat, Facebook]
Dram Magazine made The Black Cat a ‘Scottish New Bar of the Year’ Finalist, and it’s not difficult to see why. A Bespoke Bar in the heart of the city, The Black Cat is a cosy and sophisticated bolt hole, with a great outdoor seating area on Edinburgh’s atmospheric Rose Street. A hand-picked selection numbering some 100 fine Whiskies is complemented by local and international ales, ‘some of the finest coffee in Edinburgh’ and a menu of Scottish fayre. Traditional Scottish Folk music is performed live on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
We love: Late night Whiskies til 3am during The Edinburgh Festival –the perfect post-performance nightcap.
168 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 4BA (website)
[Image Credit: Teuchters Landing]
Situated in the popular Shore area of the regenerated port district of Leith, Teuchters Landing has been hit listed in the Scottish Eating and Drinking Guide 2012/13, Scotch Malt Whisky ambassador 2013 and CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2013. Teuchter’s Landing offers over 90 varieties of Scotch Whisky (as well as 17 beers on tap and 20 wines by the glass), but the food offering is just as important, with mussels and macaroni and mull cheese featuring as crowd-pleasing favourites.
We love: Playing ‘Hoop of destiny’ for the chance of winning a free dram!
1c Dock Place, Edinburgh EH6 6LU (website)
[Image: The Bow Bar Twitter]
The Bow Bar’s Gantry (rescued from an old Church)is stuffed full of Malt Whisky, with over 280 Whiskies forming a tempting display. Single Cask Whiskies, Whiskies with a variety of finishes, and newly released Whiskies are frequently featured, but old favourites are always included. In the tradition of great Scottish free houses, the ambience is cosy and informal, and it's not hard to see why the Bow Bar was named 'Best Pub in Scotland' in 2017 at the AA's Hospitality Awards.
We love: The warm and relaxed atmosphere. You may even see a dog curled up by the stove!
80 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH
[Image Credit: Whiski Bar and Restaurant, Facebook]
With 300+ Whiskies to add to its selection of wine, cocktails, and local beers, ‘Whiski’ is a whisky bar for the true devotee. Situated on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, Whiski has a unique ambience, with shabby chic décor and mood lighting creating the perfect environment to sample a ‘wee dram’. The excellent food offering concentrates on the Scottish classics.
We love: The fantastic live music that brings Whiski Bar to life 7 nights a week.
119 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG (website)
[Image Credit: Whiski Rooms]
Whiski’s newer sister venue ‘Whiski Rooms’ expands on the mission of Whiski by adding a dedicated Whisky Shop and daily tutored tasting. Whiski Rooms enjoys a fabulous ‘world heritage site’ location, perched on the walk up The Mound toward The Royal Mile. Over 300 Scotch whiskies are served here to a discerning clientele, and the venue is one of the few ‘Ardbeg Embassy’ status venues, serving an extensive range from the popular Islay Distillery. Whiski’s excellence has just been recognised by the British Institute of Inkeeping, who made it their Whisky Bar of 2014, while it was also named the Best Restaurant in the Old Town in the 2014/2015 ion awards.
We love: Enjoying stunning Edinburgh views from one of the Bar’s coveted window tables!
4-7 North Bank Street, Edinburgh EH1 2LP (website)
[Image Credit: Teuchters]
The phrase ‘Teuchter’ is the Scottish version of ‘Country Bumpkin’, a playful put-down that belies the Whisky knowledge and passion displayed by the team at this informal pub. Teuchters combines comfy sofas, a great range of real ales, and a lively atmosphere, and is ideally situated in the heart of the New Town. The unique offering has clearly found favour –the bar has been recognised as one of The Famous Grouse’s ‘Top 100 Bars in the UK’.
We love: The traditional chalkboard over the bar bearing the names of all the Distilleries whose output can be sampled here.
26 William Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NH (website)