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Whisk(e)y Bars

General chat and talk about whisky.

Whisk(e)y Bars

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:30 pm

Right then folks. What separates a good whisk(e)y bar from an all time great?
Range of stock, quality, price, ambience what the dram is served in, pleasant bar staff, knowledgeable staff? What?
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Postby bamber » Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:47 pm

1. SMWS bar in Leith. Great accomodation, great staff and great whisky in wonderful surroundings. More like an old Oxbridge college library than a bar. Can't wait to get back.

2. The whisky heritage centre in Edinburgh - simply because of the selection and the fact you can eye up all those sexy malts, in their shop, before going in there.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:14 pm

The SMWS bar suffers, in my view, from the lack of ability to peruse the stock in any meaningful way. You can look at the tasting notes of the latest bottlings, but the rest is just pot luck. You can't see what's there and what isn't. This ought to be remedied with a decent whisky menu.

The SWHC bar has good stock, clearly set out on the shelves and in a menu. It suffers from a very poor ambience, food smells, and a largely ignorant clinetele. And as for the piped muzak, if I hear Gradh Geal Mo Chridh one more time...

The Pot Still in Glasgow or the Bow Bar in Edinburgh are excellent because they display their bottles and have good menus to peruse. They have a good ambience and not everyone is there to dsavour whisky - they have excellent beers, wines and spirits too.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:17 pm

I agree with Bamber about the SMWS in either Leith or Queen Street and the Quiach Bar in Craigellachie is excellent.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:20 pm

The SMWS in Queen Street seems to charge far more for a dram than Leith. Whenever I go in there, it seems to be full of business people who are drinking mineral water or lager and just using the place as a club, rather than a whisky club.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:32 pm

Yes, I saw that at lunch time a little bit but in the evening it seems to be more whisky drinkers but I haven't been there since the summer of 2004 so it could have changed since then.
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Postby bamber » Tue Oct 11, 2005 7:36 pm

Nick,
I certainly agree with all your negatives about the SWHC , but once I got my teeth into some Laphroaig 30yo and Glenfarclas 30yo all was forgiven.

The Bow Bar, <sigh>, they would not let me in. They said it was too late - about 10.45 pm pm a Friday night. It seemed open. People were drinking. Annoyed me quite a bit. So out of sour grapes my assessment of the Bow Bar is:

Boooooooooooooooooooo !!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:34 pm

Nick Brown wrote:The SMWS bar suffers, in my view, from the lack of ability to peruse the stock in any meaningful way. You can look at the tasting notes of the latest bottlings, but the rest is just pot luck. You can't see what's there and what isn't. This ought to be remedied with a decent whisky menu.


Hi Nick ,
If you ask at the bar they have folders with tasting notes for all the bottles on the shelves , a sort of whisky menu ......

The SMWS in Queen Street seems to charge far more for a dram than Leith. Whenever I go in there, it seems to be full of business people who are drinking mineral water or lager and just using the place as a club, rather than a whisky club.


My understanding (sure i read is somewhere but i may be wrong !) is that the difference between The Vaults and Queen St is that The Vaults is open to Members and guests only whereas Queen street is open to anyone as well as members , so they might charge more for that reason .

I prefer The Vaults , there's something very "hospital" about QS , in that it has clean white lines and seems sanitised (if that sounds right!) ! Mind you the one thing it has going for it is that it does have Ian Grays Paintings hanging up .....

The Vaults is definitely a better place for a dram , more warming and homely , also the flats are very handy and superb for getting your head down after a long session on the malts !!!

Slainté
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:44 am

OK, all of the things you listed. Each one of those adds up to a great whisky bar, if one of those was missing it would just be a good place to drink.

The only place I have been too that meets all the requirements is The Nobody Inn at Doddiscombsleigh in Devon. It is a 16th Century Inn with over 240 whiskies, mostly malts.

It also has a fantastic wine list, over 700 wines, and the food is superb.

Has anybody else been there?

Cheers

Paul
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Oct 12, 2005 7:00 am

Mind you the one thing it has going for it is that it does have Ian Grays Paintings hanging up .....


I knew I recognized his paintings from some where...and now I know. I met him at Wl Paris and thought his work looked familiar. I quite liked it. I invited him to display at the upcoming Victoria Whisky Festival, perhaps he will.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Oct 12, 2005 7:09 am

A much overlooked factor is actually the staff! Good selection, menus and a nice atmosphere are nessecary prerequisites but a knowledgeable and service minded staff are equally as important. With a risk of sounding pompous I would call ourselves "enthusiasts" so the knowledge factor isn't as important as good service. However, as long as the staff seems interested and can keep track of the basics then I'm satisfied. An interested and friendly barkeeper who isn't "pushy" would do the job perfectly.
Unfortunately, good bars are few and far between these days.


Skål!
Christian
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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:01 pm

What's a whisky bar? :wink: :D
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:00 pm

What do you mean Admiral :roll:

Skål!
Christian
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:45 pm

Lawrence wrote:
Mind you the one thing it has going for it is that it does have Ian Grays Paintings hanging up .....


I knew I recognized his paintings from some where...and now I know. I met him at Wl Paris and thought his work looked familiar. I quite liked it. I invited him to display at the upcoming Victoria Whisky Festival, perhaps he will.

Hi Lawrence ,
I think Ians over for the Spirit of Toronto Show in November , he's also at the New York thingy the next week .
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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 12, 2005 11:06 pm

What do you mean Admiral


I was just trying to humorously point out that you're all very lucky......here in Oz, there is no such thing as a whisky bar.

The vast majority of pubs only have Glenfiddich 12yo available as a single malt, backed up by either JW Black, Red, or Chivas Regal.

There is no special "bar" or place which has an extensive menu or selection of malts.

So I was just lamenting my unfortunate situation with you! :)

Cheers,
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:32 am

Yes, I think I remember him mentioning that he'll be in Toronto...I won't be able to make it.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Oct 13, 2005 5:40 am

Admiral wrote:
What do you mean Admiral


I was just trying to humorously point out that you're all very lucky......here in Oz, there is no such thing as a whisky bar.

The vast majority of pubs only have Glenfiddich 12yo available as a single malt, backed up by either JW Black, Red, or Chivas Regal.

There is no special "bar" or place which has an extensive menu or selection of malts.

So I was just lamenting my unfortunate situation with you! :)

Cheers,
Admiral


.......and I tought Norway was bad...
I couldn't possibly imagine the situation is so bad for you down there. Really surprising!

Skål!
Christian
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Postby Aidan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:53 am

I generally prefer normal bars to whisky bars, as the atmosphere is better. As much as I like whisky, I would prefer to spend a night out with a mixed crowd.

The Temple Bar is the only proper whisky bar in Dublin, although some posh hotels have very good whisky selections.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:19 am

I ought to moderate myself after reading Aidan's post. Around where I live we don't have a whisky bar per se, but we do have a couple of bars with a good selection.

Skål!
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Postby Aidan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:26 am

Christian

I didn't mean it that way. I'm sure a night out with yourself and many others on this board would be very entertaining.

It's just that most of my friends just go to normal bars now, so I go where the crowd is... It's certainly nice once in a while, though.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:34 am

No offense taken Aidan, it wasn't my intention with the post :D
Now it's my turn to be apologetic : I prefer the mixed crowd myself - simply because there are so few whisky enthusiasts where I live. Besides, I like to talk about other things when I'm out and the people I know would be fed up with whisky if I went on and on about it. However, my point was rather the same as yours - that we don't have any specialised whisky bars here - only bars with a good whisky selection.

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression Aidan :oops:

Skål!
Christian
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Postby Aidan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:39 am

Absolutely no offence taken, Christian.

Many bars have a good selection of whisky, and I'm never going to get through them all in one night anyway... hopefully. I think good bars are all about the people who go there, and the staff that work there, I supppose.
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Postby meatyork » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:28 pm

What's a whisky bar?

I think this is something more delicious than a chocolate bar or a cereal bar. The best ones are usually made from premium malted barley (grain ones can somethimes taste very good too)and by law aged over three years. Can't wait to give it a try. Shame it's not available here. :wink:
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Postby bamber » Thu Oct 13, 2005 5:36 pm

:lol:
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Postby Wendy » Thu Oct 13, 2005 7:46 pm

Hi Lawrence and Gordon,
I think Ians over for the Spirit of Toronto Show in November

Ian Gray is not listed on the program, so I think you may have given us an inside tip about Ian Gray attending the Toronto Festival. I hope you are correct because it would be nice to see his work first hand.

Are you sure you can't find your way to Toronto, Lawrence. Your whisky fasting should be over by then...what a great way to celebrate!
Cheers,
Wendy
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:28 pm

Hi Wendy ,
give him a wide berth , he's a very bad influence ...... :lol: LOL!
He's a remarkable talent and i hope i can say a good friend , he's also got a good taste in whisky as well (his Artists Edition was a very good whisky ).
If he does get there , give him my regards and tell him not to drink too much ..............or perhaps not!
Slainté
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Postby Wendy » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:46 pm

Hello Gordon,
I can't promise to do everything that you've requested :wink:, but it will be my pleasure to send him your regards.
Take care,
Wendy
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:12 am

Hi Wendy, afraid not, we're celebrating my fathers 80th on the same day.

Lawrence
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Re: Whisk(e)y Bars

Postby patrick dicaprio » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:30 pm

Crieftan wrote:Right then folks. What separates a good whisk(e)y bar from an all time great?
Range of stock, quality, price, ambience what the dram is served in, pleasant bar staff, knowledgeable staff? What?


has to be commitment to whisky in all phases. i have been to bars that have good selections, but then bring you a tumbler of whisky :shock: i cant think of very many places that would fit this description in my area, but i would consider all of the above as important, but also the fact that whisky has to be the primary focus of the bar, not a wine bar that has 100 whiskies.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:48 pm

Somehow I am thinking of monoculture "forests".... I agree that a good whisky bar must do whisky right, but on the whole I think a pub has to appeal to a wider range of clients, or it becomes stultifying. For example, I was fortunate enough to visit the Quaich Bar in the Craigellachie Hotel this year, and it's an amazing place, but I had two drams there in three days and spent the bulk of my time in the Highlander instead. They certainly know their whisky there, but serve real ale as well, and plenty of other stuff I don't even pay attention to--it's a real pub. The Quaich is a temple, which is fine, but once a week in church is enough for me. (Come to think of it, far more than enough.... But I guess it all depends on whether they're worshipping the right things!)
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Postby The Fachan » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:34 pm

Hi there,

I am going to to go for The Pot Still and The Lismore, both in Glasgow. Good Management, good staff and good whisky, what more do you want.
Worth looking at the Mash Tun in Aberlour and the Mansfield Hotel in Elgin.

Cheers

Ian
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:40 pm

Has anyone been to the Mash Tun lately? I spent a couple evenings there a few years ago, and I understand Neil sold out. Has there been any change?

(Warning: Repeat story)

I was in the Mash Tun late, and Neil asked me where I was staying. The Aberlour Hotel, I answered, and his eyes widened. "You'll be locked out!" he said, and indeed I was. Neil knew where the landlord lived and threw rocks at his window to get him out to let me in. If I ever see the lad again, the next one's on me.
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Postby The Fachan » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:43 pm

Mr. T,

The new owners are in the process of turning the upstairs into Bed & Breakfast rooms so no more lock outs.
Whisky and beer selection are still as good with the food even better.

Cheers

Ian
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:50 pm

Good to hear. Actually, Neil offered to rent me a room the next time I was in town, but I've fallen in love with Craigellachie now. But if I get around to touring Aberlour, I'll definitely stop in there for a pint after.
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