Alongside its diverse landscapes, friendly reputation, and centuries of history, Scotland is known and loved for being one of the world’s best producers of whisky. Despite its compact size, our little country is home to over 130 malt and grain distilleries, all producing unique flavours, carefully crafted by experts who understand the finer details of ingredient and cask selections.
A trip to Edinburgh just wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of the city’s most famed whisky sampling locations. In this post, we share some of our team’s favourite spots …
Is Edinburgh famous for whisky?
Whilst Speyside is, without a doubt, the most famous region in Scotland for distilleries (it plays host to no less than 50!), Edinburgh’s connections to the rest of the world make it a great place to dip your toe into the world of whisky. Take a look at this detailed Scotch Whisky map to see all of Scotland’s distillery locations at a glance.
The locals are more than familiar with the world’s excitement for the local produce and, as a result, visitors will find an abundance of whisky bars and visitor experiences. Thanks to its advanced railway system and ample underground water supply, Edinburgh was a focal point for the whisky market in the 19th century, and this is reflected in the cities connection with the spirit today.
The best places for whisky tasting in Edinburgh
The Whiski Rooms
With great views across Edinburgh and Princes Street, Edinburgh’s Whiski Rooms host daily whisky tastings, as well as offering an impressive traditional Scottish food menu. Great for whisky beginners and connoisseurs alike, their experiences include whisky flights, whisky and cheese tastings, and whisky and chocolate samplings. With over 300 hundred to choose from, the only thing you need worry about it when you’ll be heading back to try more.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Take a ride in a giant whisky cask, and explore the worlds largest collection of Scotch, before heading to the Whisky Experience’s Old Town bar, where their carefully trained team can talk you through a sizeable menu of malts from across the country. This is a great place to take advantage of the extensive training each team member must go through before working in the bar – they can help you identify the perfect whisky for your palette, based on your favourite flavours and tastes.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Alongside their prestigious member lounges, SMWS offers visitors a non-member’s bar, open to guests 6 days a week, welcoming both Edinburgh residents and tourists to the city. The luxurious setting is a peaceful place to enjoy a dram and learn more about whisky membership experiences. Their website is a great spot to keep yourself up to date with all the whisky-related events in Edinburgh (their lists tend to be quite extensive!).
The Johnnie Walker Experience
With the arrival of the St James Quarter, a lot of Edinburgh’s high street stores moved out and made way for a new wave of tourist experiences on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. The Johnnie Walker Experience is one of the most impressive to date. 8 floors of historical Scottish architecture take you on an immersive adventure through the story of Johnnie Walker, captivating guests with sensory experience rooms and colourfully creative spaces. Finish your whisky exploration with a visit to their rooftop bar, with views across Edinburgh Castle.
Bar & Lounge at The Bonham
The stylish and relaxed settings of The Bonham Bar & Restaurant offer Edinburgh visitors a historical experience away from the nearby hustle and bustle of the city centre. Consistently referred to as one of “Scotland’s finest hotels”, the opulent dining room calls on the art deco period for inspiration, with 30s glamour oozing from the thick drapes and burnished wood floors. The team are known for their creative cocktails and are always willing to create something new (or classic) for whisky lovers.
Giving the famous distilleries of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands a run for their money, Holyrood Distillery won Best Scottish Attraction 2021 in the Icons of Whisky Awards. In 2019, this new producer opened its doors to become the first single malt whisky distillery in the city center in almost a century. The beautiful 180-year-old railway goods building was carefully renovated as a whisky and gin distillery and offers daily tours for those wanting to sample two of Scotland’s most loved spirits.
Panda & Sons
Home to one of the most famous whisky cocktails in the city, Panda & Sons is a novelty visitors spot you don’t want to miss. Their celebrated ‘Bird Cage’ cocktail is served in a goblet, presented in a smoke-filled cloche which is then dramatically lifted, clearing the misty dome and revealing the drink. With Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, rhubarb and lemongrass shrub, Aperol, and Angostura Bitters, this cocktail packs a strong punch!
Accommodation close to the centre is often preferred, allowing bar hoppers and whisky lovers an easy return to the comfort of their room. The Bonham Hotel is conveniently located in a central area of Edinburgh’s West End location. Only a 10-15 min walk to the city’s primary Princes Street, it offers a safe and peaceful experience on the doorstep of the capital’s main outdoor attractions.