Friday, August 08, 2008
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
87 Giles St
Like the first installation of this series, here's another pick that is not really a pub but is among the best places in the world to enjoy good whisky. Actually, it is not even in Edinburgh, technically, but whatever.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is an international members club with "club houses" in several countries around the world. There is one on Queen St. in Edinburgh, but this location in Leith is the real gem. With 30-foot ceilings, a working fireplace, cozy couches, and charming staff, its as if the 100+ whiskies are superfluous, never mind the free tea and coffee.
But yes, it is a members club, so how do I get in? Well, thank goodness, this club lacks the stringent stuffiness expected from the format. Anyone can join (you don't need to have been a graduate of Eton or whatever) for £100, which gets you your membership card and lapel pin, a regional tasting pack (it used to be a bottle... hmm), a SMWS file box, a map, and a subscription to their bottling catalogue and unfiltered magazine.
Also, if you want a taste of what the society does without fully committing to membership, guest day passes are available for the venues. They cost £10 which is refunded off the cost of your membership if you join up. You just pick them up at the time of visiting and they allow you access to both Edinburgh venues throughout that day.
The whiskies are all single cask, and cask strength, and can be ordered by distillery number (a system the SMWS derived for labelling their bottlings, by distillery name, or by what you feel like "got anything that tastes like beeswax and grapefruit juice?" See some SMWS bottlings tried on the Malt Mission HERE.
And although many of my friends and colleagues are already breaking my balls about revealing too many of their secret spots in Edinburgh, it is worth a walk down to The Shore (to the right as you leave The Vaults) and explore the pubs and restaurants in a charming little stretch of Leith.
For more of Dr. Whisky's picks of the best pubs in Edinburgh, click HERE.