I appreciate your confidence, Lawrence, but I really don't know Inverness that well. It was the first place I ever stayed in Scotland, other than my friend's house in Dunfermline, and I had a bit of a bad experience. I found a street full of B&Bs and went knocking on doors. The following conversation was repeated a half a dozen times:
TH: Do you have a room for tonight?
Little Old Lady: For how many?
TH: Just me.
LOL: No, sorry.
Finally a door was answered by a canny Scotsman (who bore a peculiar resemblance to Michael Palin's unctuous salesman type), who knew very well that he wasn't going to fill that triple room at 8:00pm anyway. The whole thing put me off Inverness, and I never returned until just this past year. (I book almost everything ahead now.) And I'll say here and now that it's a lovely town, really, but I've only really spent a day or two there.
As well, when I'm looking for a pub, I am much more concerned (
) with getting good beer than with getting a good selection of malts. I love a place like the Bow in Edinburgh, where I can have both, but I'm happier with a pint of Deuchar's and the Classic Six than I am with 150 malts and John Smith's Smooth. For many of my favorite pubs, I could not even tell you if they had much of a malt selection (although usually I remember if they do).
That said, I liked both Blackfriar's and the Phoenix. Just went back over my trip diary, and I didn't say much about either--I was trying to catch up on the previous days' visit in Norway. And I'll second the Whisky Shop. I spent overnight pondering a bottle of Douglas Laing Platinum Brora, and when I returned to buy it at 10:00 the next morning, I was offered a sample of their own bottling of a 17yo Laphroaig. Sneaky bastards! Everything
tastes great at 10:00am, and the Laphroaig was a stunner. So of course, I bought both.
Lawrence, I don't know especially about Inverness, but I've noticed Saturday Night Syndrome in towns all over the British Isles; it's really important in some places to know where you're going to be on Saturday night. It's definitely binge drinking night. Early in the evening, all the kids come out of the woodwork, laughing and singing and skipping up the street and slapping one another on the back. A few hours later, they head the other way, crying and vomiting and stumbling down the street and pounding each other in the face. I always try to stay Friday and Saturday in the same town, anyway, as the B&Bs feel better about blocking them, so that gives me Friday to scout out a quiet pub for Saturday, if necessary.
Tom, there are some nice B&Bs on Ness Bank, along the river, on the 'near' side and close to the rail station and about everything else, for that matter, but in a relatively quiet area. I can pm you a recommendation if you want.