TT&S Edinburgh: Top 10 Places to Mingle With Spirits….
I love history but I also love a good pint or cocktail (a good gin & tonic most especially!) So when I travel I like to incorporate beer, cocktails or distillery tours into my trip… sometimes all three! While there are lots and lots of great places in Edinburgh, here are my top 10 recommendations–5 tours and 5 bars…
- The Scotch Whisky Experience
- Pickering’s Gin Distillery Tour
- Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour
- Scottish Beer Tour
- Whiski Rooms Whisky Tastings
- Panda & Sons
- The Potting Shed
- The Jolly Botanist
- The Salt Horse
- Beer Kitchen
** Bonus- Spirits & Spirits: Evening of Ghosts & Ghouls
Have you been to Edinburgh? Do you have additional suggestions to add to this list?
1. The Scotch Whisky Experience is located near the castle at the top of the Royal Mile, a cobblestoned street that runs through the middle of Old Town Edinburgh. Sure it is a bit touristy but who would not like a barrel ride through the whisky distillation process? The tour is informative and fun, especially if you are not a big whisky fan to start. If all else, seeing the world’s largest whisky collection is worth the tour! The overall presentation from start to finish is nicely done and recommend the first time you are in Edinburgh.
2. Pickering’s Gin Distillery Tour is located in Summerhall on the grounds of a defunct Vet School. Pickering’s made International news when it offered gin filled Christmas ornaments–a big hit that sells out very quickly!– but it is the gin inside that is my favorite. The tour walks you through how the recipe was created based on an old Bombay recipe, an old family recipe dating to 1947 and how it was tweaked for a 21st century market. The tour begins at the Royal Dick Bar where Pickering’s gin is piped in directly from the distillery! Fun!
3.Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour during the day and Heads and Tale bar by night! Due to its popularity and growing market EG opened a second distillery in 2016, however tours are offered at the original location. In addition to describing the distillation process, the tour covers the history of gin as well so it is very informative and enlightening. History and Gin- you can’t go wrong! The tasting rooms are unique and their gift shop sells various sizes and types so you can take some home with you after the tour. If you plan to visit, make sure you book early as weekend tours are usually sold out!
4. Scottish Beer Tour is a great way to spend an afternoon while in the city! It lasts about 3 hours and no tour is the same as the beer tastings and locations vary depending on the tastes and desires of the group. The guides are experts in Scottish beer and offer recommendations that reflect what is currently on the market. It is a walking tour, history (of beer) tour and tasting all rolled into one. As each tour is fresh and distinct so it can be done multiple times if you visit the city more than once!
5. Whiski Rooms Whisky Tastings need I say more? When in Rome– uh, I mean Scotland! Whisky and Scotland are synonymous. Scotch! This whisky tasting is less about the show and more about the whisky. Whether you are looking for an introduction to whisky, or you want a little cheese or chocolate with your whisky then one of their three tours is just what you are looking for during your stay in Edinburgh!
6. Panda & Sons is a hidden gem that must be seen and experienced! The bar is a fusion of a Prohibition Speakeasy and a vintage barbershop– eclectic but fun! At the bottom of the stairs, one enters through a makeshift bookcase to find barber chairs and velvet couches, barbershop quartet music in the bathrooms and a staff that dresses the part. My favorite drink was the Tiki Takeaway– Rum, lime juice, and soy sauce (yes!) in a takeout container and cucumber garnish made to look like noodles. Another favorite was the Harry Belafonte (at left). A fun stop for a nightcap after dinner one night!
7. The Potting Shed offers a plethora of cocktails, 18 rotating beers on tap and an extensive list of bottled beer, as well as a selection of red and white wine. With yummy bar food and a quirky atmosphere, it is a fun destination for a drink or two that is not far from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile. 1/2 mile=walking distance! The bar offers live music 3 nights a week by local artists. The Potting Shed Mojito or Martini anyone? I am in!
8. The Jolly Botanist is the place for you if you like gin and tonic! The menu is pages upon pages of various types of gin (many Scottish but they have gin from all over the world!), a description of the botanicals used in the making, a recommended tonic water (they are not all the same!) and the perfect garnish. Who needs a plain old lime when you can have a sprig or rosemary, cinnamon stick or grapefruit and basil instead? Great gin menu and in the summer the floor to ceiling windows can be opened to allow the summer breeze to blow through… Great little place if you love gin like I do!
9. The Salt Horse is a great little beer garden and shop that offers a secluded getaway not far from the Royal Mile! Have a bite to eat and a beer… you can also get a glass of wine if you prefer… and then buy beer to take ‘home to the hotel’ with you. They offer a large selection of Scottish beer as well as beers from all over the world. A hidden gem for beer aficionados!
10. Beer Kitchen is home to Innis & Gunn, a Scottish Oak Aged Beer full of depth and flavor! While the brewery does not do tours, it does do beer tastings and flights at the Beer Kitchen Bar… grab a bite and sample a few of their beers or some of their rotating guest beers. Their Growler Station is a highlight of the stop, with two sized you can take some home with you and keep the growler as a souvenir. Don’t let the name fool you– with an 8-page drink menu they do more than just beer!
** Bonus- Spirits & Spirits: Evening of Ghosts & Ghouls is great if you fancy a little spirits with your spirits! Walking tours about the dark side of the city are very popular as Edinburgh has a bit or a dark, checkered past. The tour begins at the Mercat Cross and winds through the medieval streets and closes, ending up in the Blair Street Underground Vaults. Once you emerge from below you will enjoy a dram of whisky or pint of lager while you hear one or two more tales of Edinburgh’s ghoulish past. Sometimes a bit humorous, sometimes a bit melodramatic and sometimes a bit ghoulish but worth the experience on your first trip!