Many visitors to Edinburgh have savouring a taste of whisky in one of the Capital’s historic bars as a top bucket list item. In this blog, our travel experts share the top spots to try a wee dram while in Edinburgh.
So choose your favourite dram, pour yourself a wee nip and read on. If we don’t have you saying “Slàinte Mhath” by the end of reading this, we haven’t done our job!
Scotch Whisky Facts
Where better to begin than by returning to basics and looking at what whisky actually is? Whisky is a distilled spirit made from three innocuous ingredients – water, cereals and yeast. The name whisky actually comes from the Gaelic Uisge Beatha, which means “water of life”.
Did you know that Scotland has five whisky-producing areas? Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland, and Speyside. Each region has its own unique flavour, but whiskies from Islay are famous for their peaty and smoky flavours.
At this point, we’d like to mention that we spell whisky without an e in Scotland. You’ll notice the alternative spelling whiskey is more common in Ireland and the USA.
Whisky Tasting Edinburgh
There is no better place to immerse yourself in the rich world of Scottish whisky. Edinburgh is a city that’s home to many legendary bars, specialist shops and whisky-themed attractions. It’s the perfect destination for whisky enthusiasts.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is a newly opened attraction which offers top-class cocktails and fantastic dining opportunities. This stellar whisky destination extends over 8 floors, including the 1820 rooftop bar offering panoramic views over the city skyline.
The Scotch Whisky Society was founded in 1983 and is a member organisation. SMWS 28 Queen Street is a grand townhouse in the heart of the Georgian New Town and home to the famous Kaleidoscope Bar, which is open to the public.
The bar is stocked with over 200 different whisky bottles offering single malts from over 137 distilleries, which can be paired with delicious Scottish bar food.
Whisky distillery in Edinburgh
If you’re looking for a distillery in the heart of Edinburgh, there’s only one place to go – the Holyrood Distillery. Found just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, this is a recent (and much welcomed) addition to the Scottish capital. Being so conveniently located within the city, there’s no excuse not to pop into the visitor centre and have a wee dram at the visitor centre.
Oh, and before we forget, if you take some photos at the distillery, do as the Latin Americans do and shout out “whisky” instead of the traditional “cheese” when the photo is being snapped!
Whisky distillery near Edinburgh
If you can travel a little bit further afield (yet still within easy access to Edinburgh), the good news is that you’ll be spoilt for choice distillery-wise!
Glenkinchie Distillery is located in the East Lothian village of Pencaitland, around 15 miles from the city centre. Glenkinchie is a member of the “Four Corners of Scotland Distillery Club” as it provides one of the malts used to blend Johnnie Walker whisky. You’ll also be able to learn more about their Lowland-style whisky on one of the splendid guided tours.
Head westwards to visit the recently opened Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow. Situated alongside the River Clyde, it offers another Lowland-style malt that we’re sure won’t disappoint. The distillery is a stop on the Glasgow City Tour.
At the time of writing, there are over 140 operational distilleries (146 to be precise) in Scotland, so wherever you find yourself in Scotland, you won’t be far from some whisky – that’s a guarantee!
Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh
An article about Scotch whisky wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the award-winning Scotch Whisky Experience, which can be found at the head of the Royal Mile, close to Edinburgh Castle. This popular visitor attraction is an absolute must for any whisky lover.
Where to begin? Their 3 decades of experience in whisky? The whisky tasting on offer? Perhaps the 3000+ collection of whisky bottles in residence, including The Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection?
Whisky tours from Edinburgh
Edinburgh provides an excellent base for seeing more of Scotland. Many tours include the chance of visiting a distillery to get a behind-the-scenes view of the production process in the company of an expert guide, followed by a tutored tasting.
The Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and Whisky day tour offers the chance to experience the Clydeside Distillery Tour in Glasgow.
On The Essential Whisky Experience tour, you can visit Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret, and enjoy a pairing of chocolate and whisky at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.
Heading southwards, the Rosslyn Chapel, Scottish Borders and Whisky itinerary features the opportunity to explore Glenkinchie Distillery.
Best whisky bars in Edinburgh
You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it… the only thing left to do now is taste it. We’ve pulled together some of the best whisky bars in Edinburgh you may want to consider visiting – although with so many to choose from, we would always encourage you to do your own research.
The number 1 slot according to Forever Edinburgh is The Canny Man’s, which was given the title of the “the best pub in the world” by none other than Rick Stein. You’ll find this pub in the Morningside area, a mainstay since 1871 and with a whisky selection of 250 to choose from, it’s an excellent choice for any whisky aficionado.
In the heart of the Old Town, check out The Devil’s Advocate and Whiski Bar, each offers a wide selection of whiskies to choose from.
The swanky Balmoral Hotel is home to Scotch, a world-class whisky bar with over 500 Scotch malt whiskies.
Get a real taste of Scotland with Scottish Tours
Has all this reading given you a taste to discover more of Scotland? If you’d like to include a whisky-tasting experience to your itinerary, it’s easy with our extensive range of sightseeing tours.
Book your perfect Scotland Tour today.
Picture credits: Holyrood Distillery, Riverside Distillery, Scotch Whisky Experience The Devil's Advocate and VisitScotland