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Issue 42 - Tomes of Zurich

Whisky Magazine Issue 42
September 2004


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Tomes of Zurich

Switzerland might not seem an obvious place to find a good whisky bar, but the Widder Bar is just that. Jefferson Chase reports

Zurich is one of those places you go when you want to pretend to be James Bond for a while. Set against a fantastic backdrop of shimmering lake waters and snow covered Alpine peaks, the city still exudes the same coolly understated, hedonistic style it did in the late ‘60s, when 007 cruised around Switzerland in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. And where there's style, there's got to be whisky.

Located at Rennweg 7 on the simultaneously quaint and ultra-posh right bank of the River Limmat, the Widder Bar isn't ostentatious. A simple ram's head above the door (widder being German for Sagittarius) marks the entrance, and the building used to play home to the local butchers' guild. But once you're inside, and your eyes have adjusted sufficiently to the extremely discrete lighting to see the rows of treats lining one long wall, you'll realise that this is definitely not an everyday working-man's joint.

“I'm sorry I can't let you sample this because it cost me 2000 francs,” says manager Markus Blattner, who has just retrieved a bottle of Black Bowmore from the bar safe. “But have you ever tried a 17 year old Highland Park from 1958?”

“Not recently,” I'm tempted to say, but fortunately brain and curious taste buds intervene. The Widder Bar's stocks include a host of rarities, everything from a 40 year old Macallan from Gordon & MacPhail to a Skylab-era Cardhu to the controversial Black Bruichladdich. Pre-1980 bottlings are one of Blattner's specialities, and I'm am...

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