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.  Continue reading

Edinburgh Whisky: The Whisky Trail + Robert Graham


Here is a contribution for the Captain Obvious Hall of Fame: there are a lot of whisky stores in Edinburgh. And I can say this despite barely having gone off the Royal Mile in my four days there. At the top of the Royal Mile is the Scotch Whisky Experience—as underwhelming as it is maximalist in design—and at the bottom is Cadenhead’s—as excellent as any Scotch whisky institution can be. In between, and on adjoining streets are a panoply of other establishments where you can buy or drink whisky. Today I have brief looks at two of these, one closer to the touristed epicenter of the Royal Mile, and one closer to Cadenhead’s in both location and ethos.  Continue reading

Edinburgh Whisky: The Scotch Whisky Experience + The Whisky Shop + the Bow Bar


It’s been three months since we got back from the UK and I’ve barely scratched the surface of my planned Scotland posts, to say nothing of my London food posts. I’m going to try to get at least most of the Scotland stuff done by the end of October. There’ll be a few posts on eating in Edinburgh, a few on eating in the Speyside and on Orkney, and starting with this one, there’ll be a few posts on whisky stores in Edinburgh (following my brief look at the excellent Cadenhead’s store there, which I’d posted in June). This post combines a look at two places: the Scotch Whisky Experience at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Cadenhead’s, and the Victoria St. location of the Whisky Shop, not too far away. In different ways these are both quite different from Cadenhead’s; I wouldn’t really suggest shopping there over Cadenhead’s or Royal Mile Whiskies (report coming soon) but it was still interesting to go into both places.  Continue reading

Gordon & MacPhail (Elgin, Scotland)


Our time in Elgin began with a visit to the evocative ruins of Elgin Cathedral; but as far as I was concerned, the most important cathedral in Elgin was the legendary Gordon & MacPhail store—the place that many say is essentially the birthplace of single malt whisky as we know it. It is this store that began the consistent practice of bottling and selling whiskies from distilleries when their owners were not yet doing so. Their stocks are legendary and some of the oldest single malts ever released have either come directly from them or from casks bought back from them by the distilleries (G&M have their own bonded warehouse in Elgin and are highly unusual among independent bottlers for having filling contracts that let them mature their casks themselves). In the modern era, they have released a large number of excellent whiskies in a number of different lines, and until recently were one of the bottlers who could be most relied upon for providing value to middle-class drinkers. For all these reasons, as well as the possibility of finding some recent lauded releases still sitting on their shelves, I was very excited to visit. Indeed the visit was at the very top of the list of whisky things I was excited to do while in the Speyside. Alas, the experience turned out to be quite disappointing. Continue reading

Edinburgh Whisky: Cadenhead’s

As you probably do not remember, my experience at the London branch of Cadenhead’s was not very positive. This is partly because the selection on the occasion of my visits was not very inspiring, and largely because the staff were not inclined to be very helpful—one gent, in particular, almost eccentrically so. I am happy to say that, as expected, the experience at the Edinburgh location—down the hill on the Royal Mile—was as different as could be imagined. I’m also happy to say that the Edinburgh Cadenhead’s turned out to be a 2-3 minute walk from our Airbnb. As a result, I went a couple of times. I’ll have reviews of the things I bought in the coming weeks (or next month, more likely); here, for now, is a brief write-up of the shop along with far too many photographs—if such a thing is possible.  Continue reading

London Whisky: Cadenhead’s


In addition to being lazy, I am a liar. I’d said that my write-up of Berry Bros. & Rudd was going to be my last post on London whisky stores and that I would not be going to Cadenhead’s on this trip and now here I am with a report on Cadenhead’s after all. Why did I say that I was not going to go to Cadenhead’s on this trip? Well, when I visited the store last August I was charmed by the store itself but not terribly taken by the customer service I received. The one person on duty that afternoon was stand-offish—I said at the time that his demeanour suggested he’d have been fine with nobody entering the shop that afternoon—and not terribly helpful when asked specific questions about bottles I was interested in. So why did I end up going to Cadenhead’s again anyway? Well, we went to dim sum with friends at Royal China in Marylebone and it turned out to be all but right next to Cadenhead’s. And as I was going in a different direction from the missus and the kids after lunch, and as I had 30 minutes to spare, I decided to pop into Cadenhead’s again. I know this has been a terribly fascinating history of this crucial decision. I am happy to tell you, however, that my experience on this visit was much better. Continue reading

London Whisky: Berry Bros. & Rudd


Here is the third in my deranged series of reports from this extended trip of some of London’s best known whisky stores, and the fourth overall (the two previous reports covered the Whisky Exchange and Royal Mile Whiskies and the Vintage House). The first entry was made last August. That gallery focused on Cadenhead’s, Milroy’s of Soho and Hedonism Wines. I had in fact also gone to Berry Bros. & Rudd on that trip but due to an unfortunately timed water pipe leak their spirits section was closed at the time. And so I was resolved to go back on this trip. I’d expected to go in earlier and do a lot of my shopping there for the bottles I am drinking while in London but for one reason or the other didn’t make it in till yesterday. Herewith my discoveries.  Continue reading

London Whisky: Royal Mile Whiskies + The Vintage House


Allow me to continue with my series of deranged posts filled with images taken in London shops. A few weeks ago I posted a large number of pictures taken at the Whisky Exchange store in Covent Garden (this followed a post from last summer that featured a number of other prominent London whisky stores). And a week and a half ago I posted a large number of pictures of Paxton & Whitfield, a major London cheese shop. This week it’s back to whisky and this time I have a twofer: pictures of the London outpost of Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury and of the Vintage House in Soho. Continue reading

London Whisky: The Whisky Exchange


Last summer I visited a few prominent whisky stores in London (and wrote them up). Thanks to stupidity I did not make it to the Whisky Exchange. For some reason—probably the fault of Florin, Prince of Persia—I came to believe their store was closed on Sundays when it is not, and so I didn’t stop in even though I was right in Covent Garden for lunch on a Sunday. That omission is now being set right with a dedicated photo collage of their Covent Garden store. Located right off the Strand on Bedford St., this store is dangerously within walking distance of our flat and I’ve already contrived to walk by it twice and stop in. On both occasions I have purchased a bottle (Glenfarclas 15 on the first occasion and a bottle of their own Elements of Islay Lg6 on the second) and on both occasions I have confused the staffers by taking many pictures of the store: they either think I’m mad or casing the joint or both. Thus do I sacrifice my dignity for you, my ungrateful readers.  Continue reading

London Whisky

Milroy's of Soho
I’ve been in London for little over a week. By the time most of you will read this—Wordpress stats tells me that most of my readership is in the US—I will be in a plane flying back to Minnesota. Instead of putting up another London restaurant review—believe me, there’ll be quite a few more in the coming weeks—I thought I’d put up a gallery of images of and in some of London’s major whisky stores. If you’re like me before this trip you may have wondered what these stores whose names we know actually look like. If so, here’s a peek at Cadenhead’s, Milroy’s, Berry Bros. & Rudd, and Hedonism Wines. Continue reading