Celebrate Whisky Month in Edinburgh
12 May 2021
- food and drink
We’re in the midst of Whisky Month and people across Edinburgh, Scotland – and the world – are rejoicing in a celebration of the ‘water of life.’ As if any further excuse to raise a dram was necessary, there’s also World Whisky Day on the 15th of this month. Arriving as it does before the summer festivals, it’s the perfect time for whisky novices to jump headfirst into Edinburgh’s whisky culture.
Edinburgh is full of places to enjoy a dram or two and experience the history of Scotland’s national drink. Julie Trevisan Hunter of The Scotch Whisky Experience has some excellent suggestions for getting into the ‘spirit’ and joining the ranks of the #WhiskyConverts. Read on to start your whisky journey.......
Find the region or style that’s right for you
There are hundreds of different Scotch Whiskies, distilled in the five whisky-making regions across Scotland, meaning there’s something out there for everyone. For example, there’s a big difference between a light and citrusy Lowland whisky and a peaty one from Islay, so try one from each region until you start to recognise the characteristics that you enjoy.
Ask one of the experts in one of Edinburgh's many whisky bars to find the perfect dram for you - they really know their stuff!
Choose the perfect setting
Whisky can be enjoyed anywhere and Edinburgh is home to some amazing places to enjoy a dram. Since environment has been proven to influence taste, take advantage of the city’s great outdoors and stunning vistas, traditional fireside settings (or outdoor seating) in pubs, contemporary bars, or simply enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. As part of the Scotch Whisky Experience tours, visitors taste what is often their first dram amid the amber glow of their fabulous whisky collection. If that doesn’t convince people, what will?
For a modern distillery in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, be sure to pay a visit to Holyrood Distillery. Set within a 180-year-old building, Holyrood Distillery opened its doors in July 2019 and is Edinburgh’s first new malt distillery for almost 100 years. To really get to grips with whisky, as well as gin, which is also made here, why not book a place on their guided flavour-forward experience. You'll learn how both gin and whisky are crafted, and about both the traditions and innovative new methods in craft distilling employed at Holyrood. This is a hands-on sensory experience, taking in both their gin and whisky distilleries, with opportunities for tasting and nosing throughout.
If you love planning adventures, then you’ll love researching and plotting your own whisky trail. Don’t forget to add in some of your own favourite Edinburgh whisky bars, and build in a few you’ve been meaning to try. Take a look at the Top 10 Best Whisky Bars in Edinburgh>
Please remember to comply with all current Covid regulations. See the Scottish Government website for details >
Discover Edinburgh’s whisky history
You'll enjoy your dram all the more when you appreciate the heritage behind it. The history of whisky isn’t all about the Highlands and Islands - signs of Edinburgh’s whisky heritage are all around our city, and maybe even in places you wouldn’t expect. When passing through Haymarket station, look up and you’ll find what remains of the Caledonian Distillery. Or marvel at the beauty of the Usher Hall, which was donated to our city by the father of whisky blending, Andrew Usher.
Try it out with food
Whisky pairs well with a variety of delicious foods and Edinburgh has a wealth of restaurant options offering Scotch whisky recommendations alongside your meal. Try somewhere that really utilises the breadth of Scotland’s larder and see how whisky can complement or even amplify the flavours.
You can also discover whisky and food matching at home by stocking up on local delicacies from one of Edinburgh’s weekly markets and artisan producers. Artisan cheese and high-cocoa chocolate are two excellent partners for Scotch whisky, and there’s more information in the YouTube videos here if you’d like to delve deeper!
Don’t be put off if you ‘feel the burn’
So many people give up on the delights of Scotch whisky because they feel the initial impact of the spirit on the nose on the palate and conclude that whisky is not to their taste. They’re missing a whole world of pleasure!
Bottled at a far higher alcohol by volume than wine, it’s not surprising that whisky has something of a kick, but the trick is to go back to your dram for repeated ‘nosing’ and to hold the whisky on your palate for a good length of time. Upon subsequent sips, you’ll be acclimatised to the spirit, and a wealth of other aromas and tastes will come to the fore. Adding a little water can also be helpful.
Mix it up a little
Initially somewhat daunted by the complexity of Scotch whisky as a mixer, more and more mixologists are experimenting with Scotland’s national drink, with delicious results!
Edinburgh is well-served with amazing cocktail bars, so why not pop into your favourite and request a Scotch whisky cocktail or long drink in honour of Whisky Month? Or if you prefer the DIY approach, try some recipes from The Scotch Whisky Experience’s resident mixologist here>
The Scotch Whisky Experience
354 Castle Hill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE
Found at the top of the Royal Mile, this five star visitor attraction is Edinburgh’s whisky home, where every month is whisky month!
With a stunning multi-sensory tour and tasting, The Scotch Whisky Experience fully immerses visitors in the water of life via a breath-taking 180° panoramic tour of Scotland’s five whisky-making regions, and a carefully crafted recreation of an 1870s Blender’s Room.
Whether you're a beginner on your whisky journey, intermediate or advanced, they offer a range of tasting tours, which are a enjoyable way to learn more about this much-loved spirit. Ideal for individuals who enjoy Scotch (or are ready to give it a go!), love local, seasonal and artisan foods and are keen to hear the real stories, culture and history surrounding Scotch whisky, their Tasting Tales is an hour long fully tutored tasting of four Scotch whiskies matched with some highlights from Scotland’s larder whilst enjoying the wonderful story of Scotch whisky.
Although sometimes the best thing to do is coorie in and enjoy your favourite tipple in the comfort of your own home. Get your favourite Scottish music playlist on, close the curtains, light the fire and snuggle down with a good book.
Absolute bliss. Sláinte mhath!
Content and imagery courtesy of the Scotch Whisky Experience.