Edinburgh Whisky: Royal Mile Whiskies


Here is the last of my whisky store reports from our stay in Edinburgh in June. Having commenced that mini-series of reports with Cadenhead’s at the bottom of the Royal Mile it seemed appropriate to end with the best of the whisky stores at the top of the Royal Mile, the eponymous Royal Mile Whiskies. Despite the name and despite being pretty close to the tourist vortex near Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile Whiskies is a classic whisky store for whisky drinkers: no nonsense, no flim-flam; just a good selection of official and independent releases at reasonable prices. Between them and Cadenhead’s the whisky drinker in Edinburgh is pretty much sorted. I did not end up purchasing anything from the store on this visit but that’s only because I had plans for distillery purchases up north. 

There is another thing that links Royal Mile Whiskies and Cadenhead’s, or rather there’s a person: Mark Davidson. Perhaps better known to whisky geeks as the Jolly Toper, Mark used to head up the Cadenhead’s store in Edinburgh and is now the manager of Royal Mile Whiskies. I first “met” him about a decade ago on the WhiskyWhiskyWhisky forums. He was always a great and good-humoured source of information to far less knowledgeable and experienced people like me and—along with some others on the forum—as good an advertisement as you could hope to find for the warm and generous culture of whisky geekdom. In those days he was at Cadenhead’s. I sent friends visiting Edinburgh there and they always received good advice; on one occasion I sent a friend with a set purchase budget for me and left it to Mark to decide what I should get. My friend came back with very excellent and interesting stuff. It was a great pleasure to finally meet him in the flesh on this trip.

Mark still hosts regular tastings in Edinburgh in his guise as the Jolly Toper. I was disappointed to discover that we were going to be in Edinburgh between his tastings. However, I recommended his next tasting to my friends who were living in Edinburgh for a year—and who went to the Speyside with us for the weekend—and they ended up going with two other friends visiting them a week later from North America. They all had an excellent time. If I get to visit Edinburgh again I am going to try to make sure to time it with one of his tastings.

But here I am going on about Mark and not the store he manages. Well, that’s partly because there’s not much to say about Royal Mile Whiskies, and this is its major virtue: it’s a solid whisky store with an excellent selection and very helpful staff. It’s a fair bit larger than the London branch (which I visited last year) but has a cheerier atmosphere—not because there’s anything wrong with the staff in London but because there’s more traffic in the Edinburgh store. It is well worth a visit if you’re in Edinburgh.

Here are a few pictures. Scroll down to see what’s coming next from that Scotland trip.

What I mostly have left from our Scotland trip in June is a number of food reports: eating in Edinburgh, the Speyside and Orkney. The one exception is the remaining whisky report: drinking at the Dornoch Whisky Bar and touring their micro-distillery. That report will probably come in November. Next week I’ll have a report on two Indian restaurants in Edinburgh. That’ll both be in one post. I’ll also have a report on a Thai restaurant in St. Paul and the usual complement of whisky reviews.

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