You may or may not know it, but I used to live in London. Yeap, right in the heart of formerly-cool-and-alternative Camden Town, where I settled just after turning 18, with my black & pink hair, working as a translator by day and spending all my money attending concerts by night (\m/).
I still get this kind of emotional link to London each time I go back, and now that I have grown a passion for whisky, it has enabled me to discover another visage of the city: its buzzing food & drink scene, more “avant-gardiste” than ever and a trend setter for the rest of Europe.
Let’s then explore 5 spots you need to visit while in London if you like your whisky!
Black Rock is an experience on its own. Not your typical whisky bar, don’t expect a lounge-type bar with a luxury shiny wooden bar..
“Instead, the proprietors of this sleek subterranean drinking hole – who are also responsible for cocktailing mecca The Worship Street Whistling Shop – have taken a large 185 year old oak tree, laid it on its end, split it in half, and turned it into a gigantic whisky-filled table. And we mean that literally. Because they’ve also cut two channels down the full length of the trunk, lined them with charred American & European oak, covered them with glass and filled each with 17 litres of whisky cocktails which age as they’re stored in there, and are delivered straight into your glass through taps at the end of the trunk.
You can therefore sit and watch as twin rivers of glorious booze flow directly into your drinking vessel, scoring you either a Cherry River (with American whisky and cherries) or a special house blend of whisky…which the owners will continue to tweak over time.” (read more)
The East London Liquor Company
Remember, I already reviewed my visit to this urban distillery a few months ago here… And my opinion hasn’t changed!
Located in the heart of the Capital’s old spirits industry, East London Liquor Company is an independent British distillery producing exceptional and innovative spirits. Originally a glue factory in Bow Wharf, East London Liquor Company found its home in the disused industrial space and repurposed the venue to create a custom-built distillery that produces and imports a range of small-batch spirits.
The offering includes gins, vodka, rum and whisky; reviving and refreshing spirit production using traditional techniques to the historic distilling area. Spearheading the boom in handcrafted spirits, East London Liquor Company is the first vodka, gin and whisky distillery to find its home in East London for 100 years and the only distillery to make whisky north of the Thames.
Milroy’s Of Soho
Milroy’s of Soho pride themselves on being the “oldest whisky shop in London” and their shop/bar is definitely one to stop by during your London stay!
“The range here is enormous, with around 400 from Scotland alone, including some of Milroy’s own bottlings. Other spirits are covered too, with carefully selected Cognac, Armagnac and rums – the brand launched its first own-brand single cask rum (from the Four Square distillery in Barbados) in spring 2010. What’s more, staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the shop runs regular tasting events for those looking to improve their knowledge and appreciation of whisky. There’s a copper-top bar that seats 12 inside the shop for visitors to sit and taste at, then down in the basement – which you can access via a secret door behind a bookcase – you’ll find The Vault, a speakeasy styled cocktail bar.” (read more)
The Whisky Exchange – Covent Garden Shop
Without doubt the ultimate place to shop for whisky in London!
“No matter what your preference, you’re sure to find that perfect bottle, whether you’re looking for a birthday or Christmas present for a friend or loved one, or if you fancy treating yourself to something special. If you don’t know what to buy, our team of knowledgeable staff can help – they are all passionate about spirits and you can be confident that you’ll love whatever they recommend.
Our ground floor is filled with spirits from around the world: gins, vodkas, rums, Tequilas, liqueurs, and much more. You’ll also find a large range of Champagne, including the well-known names as well as ‘grower’ Champagnes made by small, artisanal producers.
Head down to the basement and you’ll find a treasure trove of whiskies: single malts, blends, bourbons, whiskies from Ireland, Canada, Japan and further afield. This is also where you’ll find other aged spirits such as fine old Cognacs and Armagnacs.
You can even fill your very own bottle straight from the cask; our selection will change regularly, but you can expect cask-strength whiskies, rums, Cognacs and more. And cigar smokers can choose from a range of high-quality cigars from the best producers.” (read more)
Boisdale Of Canary Wharf
Check this extensive whisky list… Most probably one of the best – if not THE best – whisky bars in London in terms of choices. Well, the only downside is that you have to travel all the way to Canary Wharf to appreciate their fine nectars but trust me, what you’ll find there is worth the long underground journey!
Also worth mentioning, the bar features a selection from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.