Whisky for Beginners in Edinburgh by Vino Wines
May is Whisky Month in Scotland, and to celebrate it we wanted to do a blog post about whisky. However, since we don’t know much about whisky we decided to ask a whisky expert a few questions – and the perfect man for the job is Iain from Vino Wines. Keep reading and perhaps you’ll learn something new about whisky and Edinburgh!
Whisky is also known as the “water of life”. What makes whisky such a special drink in your opinion?
Whisky is special because of the care and craft that goes into producing it, the hard work of maltmen, distillers and artisans. It is a combination of carefully selected fine malted barley, the pure water of Scotland and the use of the finest casks to age the spirit to bring together a truly unique whisky that reflects the distillery and the area it was made in.
When should you drink whisky?
Quite simply for me whisky should be had with friends. A dram with friends is a time to slow down and enjoy your favourite whisky, to celebrate good times, to contemplate and fix the world’s problems.
What is the best way to drink a whisky?
How whisky should be drunk is an eternal debate. I always have it with a touch of water since whisky becomes muted in the bottle and adding a touch of water awakens the flavours hidden below the dominant taste. Some days you will need a drop of water and some days you’ll need more – it’s all down to taste and how your palate is that day.
What whisky/whiskies would you recommend to someone who doesn’t normally drink whisky?
I would recommend An Cnoc 12 yr old – a highland malt from the knockdhu distillery aged in bourbon casks, which is soft, rounded and honey edged. I would also recommend Balvenie 12 yr old aged ten years in bourbon casks and 2 years in sherry casks. It is soft and supple and perfect at night in front of the fire. It may be a more obvious choice but there is a reason for why this is such a great whisky.
Are there any exciting whisky events in Edinburgh this month that you would recommend?
There is always something on in Edinburgh, this month the big event to aim for is the Whisky Stramash on the 28th and 29th off May, a festival of whisky and invention. if you’re not around at that time check out smaller events like the Jolly Toper Tastings at the Kilderkin on the Royal Mile – an informal and very informative tasting run at this pub every month. Remember to check their social media for dates as they often change.
Could you name 3 bars/restaurants where you can get yourself a nice dram in Edinburgh?
I like the Bow Bar on Victoria street in the Old Town for a dram. A great selection of whisky, informative staff and a good atmosphere. If you would like to eat and enjoy whisky I would also recommend Albanach on the Royal Mile – they have a formidable whisky list of over 200 malts. If you want to spoil yourself go to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queen Street where you’ll find a fantastic selection of malts, all cask strengths. This is normally a private club but if you have dinner there you can access their whisky for the night and enjoy a sumptuous meal.
Are there any distilleries near Edinburgh that you think are worth a visit?
The nearest distillery to Edinburgh is Glenkinchie at Pencaitland, which is a lovely distillery within easy striking distance only 1/2 an hour from the city. Stretching further afield, if you go over the Forth in to Fife you’ll find in the East Neuk near St Andrews Kingsbarns Distillery. The distillery is recently opened and you’ll be able to taste their new make spirit and blends from the rest of the Wemys family estate.
Last but not least: what is your whisky of choice?
My favourite whisky is Talsiker 10 yr old from the Isle of Skye. It is big, bold and robust. A rich dram aged in sherry casks and heavily smoked. I have many other favourites but this is the one I always come back to. If I am going for something a little calmer I favour Springbank 10yr from Campbelltown, soft rich and silky. Part of loving whisky is to try new things, and although you may not love everything but it is part of the journey.
Start your whisky adventure in Edinburgh!
Edinburgh is a fantastic place to explore the fascinating world of whisky. Learn more about the spirit on one of the many tastings on offer, visit the numerous whisky shops and fill your suitcase with your favourite bottles, have a dram in a charming old pub or visit a nearby distillery or take part on an informative whisky tour.
To get the most out of your Edinburgh whisky adventure we suggest you stay in one of our lovely self catering apartments where you’ll feel like a local and will be able to sit back and relax with a dram in front of your own fireplace!