Hole in one

Hole in one

The Road Hole Bar in the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, carries a bottle of single malt from every Scottish distillery, as Brigid James discovered

Travel | 13 Jul 2003 | Issue 32 | By Brigid James

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The Old Course Hotel is home to world-renowned golf courses, such as the eponymous Old Course, and accommodates high-profile guests, from Tiger Woods to Hugh Grant. The Road Hole Bar is located within the hotel, overlooking the 17th hole. It has been a specialist whisky bar since 1990, and is open to both hotel guests and the public alike.The bar boasts a superb range of more than 200 single malt bottlings, covering the entire range of all 126 Scottish distilleries, whether operating or silent, including many rare gems.This is thanks to the efforts of legendary French barman Régis Lemaître, bars manager at the Old Course for more than nine years, who built up the collection – though now moved on to Gleneagles.Lemaître’s efforts secured the Glenmorangie Hotel Malt Bar of the Year title for the bar in 1997. The judges were looking for a hotel bar with a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere, but, more importantly, one with well-trained, knowledgeable staff, which certainly tallies with my experience. It was also, of course, recognised for its efforts to represent every Scottish distillery in its single malt collection.Some of the whisky golden oldies include Linkwood 1939, The Glenlivet 1946, Strathisla 1949, and Ladyburn 1973, as Road Hole barman of two years, student and inveterate whisky enthusiast Paul Lederer proudly informed me. His passion for and knowledge of single malt whisky is impressive and infectious, and a great boon to any whisky fans visiting the bar.The range of malts varies greatly in terms of rarity and price, with standard classics such as Glenmorangie 10-year-old at £7 a dram, right up to Mortlach 1936 which will set you back £275 a dram. The bar also carries deluxe blends and American and Irish whiskeys.With its traditional Scottish décor of wooden panelling, staghorn chandeliers and leather sofas, you might be forgiven for imagining that the Road Hole only attracts old duffers with a thing about single malts. Not so, Paul Lederer insists. The age-range of the clientele – hotel guests, locals and students – is ever-broadening.Although quiet when I visited, a pianist plays jazz standards and classical pieces on Fridays and Saturdays, and the bar holds functions and receptions, sometimes out on the terrace with its stunning view taking in the 17th hole, the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the sandy bay and sea beyond.Ideal for whisky virgins and recent converts, the Road Hole offers group and individual tastings, taking in a whisky from each region, with regional and whisky production information. Paul adds that impromptu tastings also occur.To prove the point, I am treated to a tasting of my own, complemented by Paul’s commentary and explanations, and comprising a Dufftown, Highland Park, Bowmore and Glendronach.Caroline-Jane Houston, Old Course executive assistant manager, explained that plans for the bar include featuring ‘malts of the month’ – a changing list of about 20 or 30 single malts which will be under a monthly spotlight, to make the collection more accessible to those less familiar with whisky. The full list in all its splendour will still, of course, be available to those hardened whisky addicts who swing through the doors.One other thing to bear in mind – the Road Hole Bar just happens to be situated right next to the excellent Road Hole Grill restaurant,which serves a fine menu featuring meat, fish and game, and a wine list with over 165 choices, if you can tear yourself away from whisky.So why not enjoy a whisky aperitif, followed by a delicious meal, rounded off with a whisky digestif (or several)?Contact
The Road Hole Bar
Old Course Hotel, Golf
Resort and Spa
St Andrews
Tel. +44 (0)1334 474 371
Web: www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk
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