Whisky Tasting: Edinburgh’s Top Scotch

By: Katie Manning

January 10, 2013

Like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, Edinburgh’s the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to Scotland’s national drink, offering some of the best city-based whisky dens in the country, from Islay drams with big personalities to the more subtle sups of a Speyside offering.

While Scotland’s main distilleries, outside of the city, are a must for whisky lovers, Edinburgh’s centre provides plenty of charm for those keen to imbibe without going the extra miles. The Scotch Whisky Experience (Castlehill), just a short skip from Edinburgh Castle, is an obvious pit stop for the more unsuspecting tourist and what it lacks in old school magic it more than makes up for with its well-informed, engaging tours – offering the finer points of whisky distillation, as well as tastings from the different whisky producing regions along the way.

Scottish Whisky Experience | Edinburgh

Scottish Whiskey Experience © The Scottish Whisky Experience


Down in Leith, you’ll find the far more intimate environment of a roaring fire and comfy leather sofas courtesy of the excellent Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Giles Street). Although it’s a members’ only affair, and has nothing on the Experience’s tour element, non-members can pre-book a spot to try three specially selected society tipples, alongside a bar meal for £29. Showcasing the very best single malts produced in the country – each single-cask and coming from a whopping 126 different distilleries – the Society’s knowledgeable staff make this a truly memorable experience. Look out, too, for its more contemporary sister venue on Edinburgh’s Queen Street.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society | Edinburgh

Scottish Whisky Society © The Scottish Malt Whisky Society


Back in town, Whiski Rooms (North Bank Street) continues to make its mark on the capital. Launched in 2011 from a former bank and bookshop, this shop, bar and restaurant holds a small whisky tasting room fit for 16 and the Ardbeg Ambassador Room for 10, with the Whisky and Cheese and Whisky and Chocolate Tastings particularly worthy of mention (just be sure to book in advance).

Robert Graham Whisky | Edinburgh

Robert Graham © Robert Graham Ltd


Alternatively, if you prefer a spot of DIY, many of the bars and pubs in Edinburgh boast lengthy dram menus; with Bow Bar, Bennets, Queen’s Arms and Roseleaf coming highly recommended. If you fancy taking away, Robert Graham Ltd and Royal Mile Whiskies each have a large whisky selection in their shop and hold occasional tastings.


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Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning