Scotland has over 130 whisky distilleries (a number that continues to grow year on year). The nation is divided into five separate regions of production – each affecting its own distinct style and flavour. Tours, trails and emporiums are popular among tourists. However, drinking the malt is still the most authentic way to experience this mountain dew. Scotland’s national drink is served in bars and restaurants across the land. But which of its luxury hotels are the best for whisky aficionados seeking the perfect tipple?
The Glenmorangie House
It’s no surprise that a boutique hotel named after – and just moments from – an internationally famous distillery, should be a great place to drink whisky. Found in a remote nook of the Highlands overlooking the Moray Firth, it provides beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy a few drams. The entire house pays homage to the drink; the decor reflects the liquid’s varying shades, ornaments point to the brand’s story and the menus incorporate the Glenmorangie flavours. The dinner party style restaurant has two Red AA Rosettes and the food created and served by their chef Joe belongs in the best 5 star hotels around the world. The hotel itself boasts three Red Stars and was included in the influential 5 Best Hotel Experiences 2016 by Forbes.com. With just nine bedrooms, a stay here feels very exclusive.
Torridon House – Whisky Bar
365 single malts and 120 gins (including the hotel’s own distillation, Arcturus) are on offer at this turreted hotel in Wester Ross. Surrounded by rugged scenery, the 19th-century retreat is a romantic, far-flung setting in which to enjoy a whisky-led break. Here trained specialists run introduction sessions to the amber beverage, offering participants the chance to nose and taste drams from across the country. Recognised for its commitment to sustainability, a stay here makes for an ethical choice.
The Balmoral – Scotch Whisky Bar
Edinburgh’s premier five-star hotel has a dedicated whisky bar, in addition to two further drinking establishments. Scotch was established in 1902 and has over 500 different varieties of liquor – making it one of the largest collections in the capital. Here, you’ll be served by passionate Ambassadors of the beverage, rather than bartenders, trained to guide you through your selections, offer tasting notes, stories and their own personal recommendations based on extensive experience. Guided Whisky Journeys can be booked in advance, or you can peruse the extensive menu which includes bespoke cocktails, like The Capital Fizz (Ruinart Champagne, Glenkinchie 12yo, brown sugar and bitters) and the Big Innes Sour (with Still Game character ”Big Innis’s” tipple of melon Midori).
The Fife Arms – Berties Whisky Bar
Taking its inspiration from the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, King Edward VII, Berties’ style is vintage, theatrical, opulent and hedonistic. The bar’s 365 whiskies are categorised into Fragrant, Fruity, Rich and Smoky. Designed by Russell Sage Studio, the whiskies are arranged like an alchemist’s bottles. Uplighters in the tables ensure the liquid glimmers as it’s poured into the glasses. Flights, cocktails, a punchbowl are all on the menu, alongside caviar and chocolates for a decadent nibble to accompany your drink. It’s a new addition to the 46 roomed Braemar themed inn and spa in Ballater, which already had a dining room, cocktail lounge and main bar.
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