If ever there were a drink that rides the fine line between elegant, good taste and a hard, gritty, dark kind of place, it would be a whisky on the rocks. Ever since the 15th century, Scotch whisky has cast its unique spell over drinkers and here in London we’ve sought solace with it through rough times and good. Yet, here in 2010, the modern and sleek whisky bars dotted throughout the capital suggest that our relationship with the tipple is currently cool and healthy. Marie Teather checks five of them out.
1 The Albannach
London’s only modern Scottish bar and restaurant, The Albannach boasts one of the greatest collections of single malt whiskies in the UK, if not the world. Selected by whisky sommeliers and advised by ‘Keepers of the Quaich’, the malts hail from all four corners of Scotland and the Scottish Isles.
Alongside its extensive Scotch collection, Albannach also stocks a range of imported whiskies from the rest of the world with a good collection coming from as far as Japan blossoms of Japan.
The bar makes a great place for inexperienced guests to learn the basics of whisky, while aficionados can enjoy in-depth tasting with the on-site sommeliers as well tailored sampling sets.
At ?750 for a double shot of whisky, The Albannach is also home to the most expensive shot of whisky on the world. Ask for the Balvenie Cask 191.
66 Trafalgar Square
London, WC2N 5DS
0207 930 0066
2 St Pancreas Grand Whisky Bar
For those who love whisky and more importantly love whisky while they travel, the St Pancras Grand Whisky Bar boats 111 different Scotch whiskies in an elegant open-plan bar and brasserie. Ignore the fact you are in a station and instead reveal in the decor that takes you back in the golden age of genteel rail travel.
Manager Bertrand Lienafa, is a walking encyclopedia of this much loved Scottish spirit while whisky connoisseurs will want to try the 1948 Glenlivet at ?150 for a 50ml shot.
3 MacDonald Bar at Boisdale
The Macdonald Bar, set in the Scottish themed Boisdale of Belgravia is a whiskey and cigar bar offering visitors an impressive selection of the very finest whiskeys.
The most eclectic of Boisdale rooms, the Bar is decorated in the style of a gentleman's club but with the ambience of a classic 1940s jazz bar and restaurant. It features a cocktail bar, formal restaurant and live jazz. The whiskey menu, as expected is extensive and ideal for both connoisseurs and enthusiasts.
15 Eccleston Street
London, SW1W 9LX
0871 971 7286
4 Slim Jim's Liquor Store
Leaving the traditional English take on whisky behind, Slim Jim’s Liquor Store looks to LA and takes inspiration from popular American ‘dive’ bars. Dark and gritty and with the air of a secret hideaway, the bar is lit with neon and candles to give a dim, hazy ambience. Set in the heart of the Islington means the bar still manages to feel up market and bohemian at the same time.
Slim Jim's founding principles of “hard liquor and good times” feel an appropriately liberating license to knock back a few shots and then see where the night takes you.
112 Upper St
London, N1 1QN
020 7354 4364
5 Salt Whisky Bar
Without a scrap of tartan in sight, Salt is a slick metropolitan whisky bar. Manager Vamsi Putta has 185 different types of the tipple on the diverse drinks menu. Most are Scotch, but Welsh and even Swedish whiskies are behind the bar here, too.
Check out some of the regular themed tasting where you can learn more about the art and science of whisky-making and, more importantly, try several of Salt's finest offerings.
82 Seymour Street
020 7402 1155