Article by Helen Glaberson
Whisky has never been more on-trend in London, with a whole host of specialised bars to cater for your obsession. Whether you’re into Indian, American, Japanese, Irish or Scottish – there’ll be a collection to suit you.
New to London’s whisky bar scene is this insane Shoreditch bar, with two ‘whisky rivers’ flowing through a huge 18ft English oak tree trunk table. Not forgetting the whisky cabinets, which hold around 250 bottles and are organised by flavour. If you don’t fancy it straight, there’s a short whisky-focussed cocktail menu to keep you busy. The guys behind this place also own Victorian-style basement bar Worship Street Whistling Shop - one check out if you’re into gin too.
Black Rock, 9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS
Boisdale Canary Wharf
Scottish whisky fans, this is for you. Head to the second floor and behold the golden wall of 1,000 bottles, mostly from Scotland, and some from distilleries that no longer even exist. This place is Scottish all over, with crimson red walls and tartan seating — it’s just the setting to get stuck into the golden stuff. Note there’s also an oyster and a cigar room, plus a heated terrace (cue the tartan blankets).
Boisdale Canary Wharf, Cabot Place, E14 4QT
If slick, grand whisky bars aren’t your style, this relaxed no-frills locals’ pub in Borough could be more your bag — and it won’t drain your bank balance either. There are at least 130 varieties, with many doubles around the £5-£10 bracket. If you can’t decide what to go for, check out the ‘Malt Of The Month’, for something extra special.
The Britannia, 44 Kipling Street, E1 3RU
Salt Whisky Bar and Dining Room
This quirky whisky bar sits in a bracket all on its own – with a flashing neon sign outside, a glowing bar top, Indian food menu, cocktails and a shisha patio. But amongst this eclectic mix is a strong thirteen-page whisky list, with 180 bottles from all over the world, including French, Welsh and Taiwanese. For whisky fans on a budget, you can try a whole host of whiskies for £4 (25ml measure). For something a little… different, this is the place to head,
Salt Whisky Bar and Dining Room, 82 Seymour Street, W2 2JB
‘The World’s Best Bar’ The Connaught has for years been renowned for its plush 1920s decadence and incredible cocktails. But more recently it's become known for its Whisky Concept Tastings too. The experience involves pairing a bespoke handmade chocolate with a top-notch whisky. The bar has also teamed up with The Dalmore to create a one-off Connaught Cask single malt, which you can try, or purchase as a bottle when you’re there.
The Connaught Bar, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
Soho Whisky Club
You’ll find it above The Vintage House Whisky Shop in Soho. There are almost 700 whiskies and an outdoor cigar terrace. You’ll need to be a dedicated whisky fan to gain access though, as this place is members only. Join up and you’ll also get free whisky tastings throughout the year and discounts on bottle prices.
Soho Whisky Club, 42 Old Crompton Street, W1D 4LR
Milroy’s of Soho
Head to London’s oldest whisky shop — there’s a bar with 250 whiskies from all over Scotland and the rest of the world. If you’re stuck for choice, order a tasting flight. Also, if you purchase a bottle you can stash it in the liquor lockers and come back for more another day. Make sure you also visit the secret cellar bar (The Vault). Enter through the hidden door in bookcase at the back. Down there you can tuck into a heady whisky cocktail list - at least 70% booze.
Milroy's of Soho, 3 Greek Street, W1D 4NX
The Bar at The Athenaeum
Inside this decadent five star hotel, you’ll find this well-stocked whisky bar; they’ve recently trimmed their collection from 300 to 52, but what’s left are rare and special bottles including The Athenaeum’s own special blend. Whiskies range in price from £9, to £342 for a Glenvit 1984— so this is definitely the place to splash out on something special. The new-look bar has a swish, lounge vibe, with a view of what feels like a ‘jungle’ outside. If you need a hand choosing your dram, head bartender Michael Ball knows his stuff.
The Athenaeum, 116 Piccadilly, W1J 7BJ
Bull In A China Shop
To fit with their Asian-inspired menu of charcoal burger buns and katsu curries, these guys have one of London’s biggest Japanese whisky collections, featuring a few exclusive rare ones like Karuizawa — all served with carefully hand-carved ice. Team it up with some Whisky Glazed Rotisserie Chicken or the Poached Asian Pear & McCallan Whisky Trifle, and you’re golden.
Bull in a China Shop, 196 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6LG
Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Okay, this is when things get really serious. This member club has the largest collection of malt whisky in the world. The bottles all have uniform labels, so as not to distract from the taste. On the label is a long number – the first part relates to the distillery, the second bit stands for the cask from which it came. There’s also a quirky description, (our all-time favourite: the ‘whisky flavoured condom’). However the distiller remains a mystery – that one’s up to your expert guess work. If you’re really particular about your whisky, there’s water from different Scottish regions (said to bring out different flavour components of the drink). The place has a simple, no-fuss design – again, so as not to distract your eyes from the prize.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 19 Greville Street, EC1N 8SQ
Also: check out this new whisky pop up.
The Blend by Chivas Regal
Chivas Regal are setting up shop at Truman Brewery for three months this October. Here you can taste your way through single malts from The Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside and Islay. Then you’ll get a chance to make your own blend and take it home with you. Get tickets here. Christmas present - sorted.
Chivas Regal at Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QR