If you love your Yamazaki and hanker for some Hibiki then you might want to make Mizuwari your new favourite haunt. Located beneath the bustle of Soho's Bincho, a grilled 'meat on sticks' joint modelled on the yakitori bars of Nippon, it's a very recent addition to the trend of bars that are hidden in the nooks and crannies of London eateries, and it's very good at what it does – plenty of divine Japanese whisky.
The setting and ambiance is a stylish take on Japan's 'Tory Bars'. It's a dark, intimate wood-panelled space with cosy benches, and sultry low lighting emanating from candles and strategically placed lamps.
In keeping with the Japanese bar theme, there is a 'bottle keep' option, which is also growing in popularity in small speakeasies and dive bars in the capital. You can purchase whichever whisky tickles your fancy, ranging from the sweetly aromatic Yamazaki 10 (£84) to the very rich (in both taste and tag) Hibiki 21, which will set you back a cool £280. Your bottle is then tagged and guarded until you return on another night.
Served in a multitude of ways, you can opt to have your chosen whisky on the rocks, or have a name sake 'mizuwari' (literally meaning 'mix with water'), which is topped up with Bincho-tan water — filtered through high grade Japanese Holm Oak charcoal, which absorbs the chlorine, resulting in a soft, cleaner taste.
For those who prefer to sup cocktails, there are plenty to choose from, such as the delicately floral Usui with Hakushu 12, violet, rosewater and orange blossom, and the slightly stronger Seimei containing Hibiki 12, maraschino, absinthe and zingy lemon zest — all expertly mixed by knowledgeable and friendly head barman Niya.
Mizuwari will now host whisky-tasting nights, with the first in the series taking place tomorrow, Tuesday 18 June. The evening will be led by Zoran Peric, both an acclaimed bartender and Suntory brand ambassador, who will talk about the history of Japanese whisky, before conducting a tasting of Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki whiskies. You can also enjoy a cocktail upon arrival, and snacks.
Mizuwari is located downstairs at Bincho Soho, 16 Old Compton St, London W1D 4TL, 5-12pm Monday-Sunday, 020 7287 9111. To reserve a place for tomorrow's tasting and any future events, contact Niya on firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets cost £22.50.