Is this the best Scottish whiskey bar in the world?
Running a scotch bar in the heart of Scotland comes with certain expectations. On the one hand, most newcomers to such an establishment assume that they will come across a wide range of liquids, including bottles that might surprise even the most jaded whiskey enthusiast. For two, there is a certain degree of knowledge and expertise that must accompany every pour. Customers generally crave more than just tasting notes these days. It is a big challenge to take up. Getting the juice is actually the easiest part.
TO The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, it’s done with such unwavering confidence that they’ve never hesitated to name their outpost, simply, SCOTCH. In other words, it’s not just any Scotch bar … it’s the Scottish bar. The references are fitting: a library of over 500 labels, proudly positioned in floor-to-ceiling lockers, so customers can get closer to the collection without being separated by a bar. Bar manager Cameron Ewen is almost always on hand (and in a full kilt), conscientiously delivering the goods with all the associated information you could hope to attain. Even when he’s not, his team is made up of worthy substitutes.
âOur Whiskey Ambassadors make a living off the whiskey and can offer a dram for any taste, preference or geographic connection to Scotland,â says Ewen. âWe are looking to the future with the aim of making whiskey as interesting as possible. “
And now, for the first time, the majestic watering hole has launched an exclusive club in collaboration with The Macallan. Comprised of just 35 memberships at a time, Scotch Club (yes, they pay close attention to names here) is billed as an exclusive experience in which lucky patrons receive a personally engraved bottle of the legendary single malt, which is kept under lock and key at home. ‘outpost.
Whenever they show up at the 5-star luxury hotel, Ewen will be waiting for them with a drink in the Lalique crystal factory. It is a special snifter specially designed by the prestigious French workshop to accentuate the aromas of matured malt. Ewen then completes the experience by providing all the questions one can ask about Macallan production and its most sought after expressions.
The Balmoral only accepted a dozen members to the Scotch Club this summer. But the waiting list for the remaining 23 places is now open. A 12 month subscription will set you back $ 833, which is quite reasonable considering that it comes with a bottle of The Macallan Double Cask 18 year old. This particular phrase typically sells in the United States for around $ 350. If you aren’t concerned with anything reasonable, consider seeking high level status. It’ll set you back $ 24,291 (Â£ 17,700) and you’ll receive a 40-year-old limited edition bottle of Macallan’s famous ‘Red Collection’.
Additional perks include an annual two-hour whiskey tasting for two – free; advance invitations to whiskey masterclasses, when offered; and special rates on Balmoral suites. Just a little more on that last part. The breathtaking nature of a luxury experience here barely ends at SCOTCH. Well-appointed accommodation offers Edinburgh guests some of the best views of the surrounding cityscape. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens, Arthur’s Seat are just a few of the landmarks to be seen in the high standard suites. All have been completely renovated over the past 5 years. Rates start at $ 600 per night.
For those looking for a taste of something even more noble, the Balmoral also has two of the largest guest houses in all of Scotland. The Glamis Suite is a 1,100 square foot ode to elegance, featuring three bedrooms, marble bathrooms, a 24-hour concierge, and a private bar and lounge, starting at $ 5,000 per night. In order not to be outdone, the Scone & Crombie Suite occupies just over 2,400 square feet. It contains bespoke furniture and tapestry-style wallpaper worthy of a royal bedroom. At $ 8,000 per night, it’s a perfect setting for people looking to unwind with an incredibly precious glass of, say, a 50-year-old single malt. Luckily, Ewen has some waiting for you in SCOTCH. And he’ll even let you have a drink in your room with you.