When it comes to what to do in Scotland, drinking whisky is of course at the top of the list. But what to try and where? Well, if you have the time and are so inclined you can of course head off and visit many of the distilleries across the Lowlands, Highlands and the Islands – I still fondly remember a visit to a wind and rain swept Isle of Skye and Talisker a few years back. If instead you just want a weekend away to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, but still want decent whisky, then I’d highly recommend The Torridon on the edge of Loch Torridon, it’s a wonderful country house hotel, with great food and a bar with over 365 whisky and gins to work your way through.
If, however, you’re off to wonderful Edinburgh with its magnificent castle, hills, and regency New Town, what can you do? Well there are whisky tasting tours, there’s even a whisky ride, but none of these are really worth the additional cost. Instead you’re far better to head to a specialist whisky bar; head to Usquabae.
Pronounce Ooh-ska-bay and meaning Water of Life, this gem of a whisky bar is tucked in a basement at the end of Princess Street. The low ceiling bar expands out into the old coal stores each decorate in a different style, while the bar itself hosts an enviable range of whisky from across Scotland and the world. For those that know what they want or know their whisky, the menu is broken down by region and distiller. For those not so knowledgable the staff are all supremely knowledgeable, friendly and happy to advise – many distillers like to drink at the bar and do tastings with the staff so they are constantly leaning more and trying new whiskies.
Happily Usquabae offers a number of particularly good whisky flights that offer a superb chance to try a variety of whisky. Flights include a selection of the whiskies preferred by the bar staff (£24), to flights from particular distillers, and at the more pricy end, flights of now closed distillers (£125) and the Luxury flight made up of pre 1950 whiskies at £600.
For those that are not whisky drinker and have been dragged along by friends that are, they have a small but well picked selection of craft beers, and the food menu is particularly handy to help soak up the booze.
Now you know where you’re going to try the whisky, all that’s left to decide is whether to add water, ice or just drink it neat.
Score(4.5 / 5)
2-4 Hope Street