While we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Scotsman as a publication, we are also to raise a glass (or a few) towards another national fixture – Robert Burns. Championing Scottish prose, he wrote world renowned poems such as, Auld Land Syne, Tam O’Shanter and To a Mouse.
Selected to be Scotland’s national poet, every January 25th – Burn’s birthday – families and friends gather in their finest kilts and dresses to toast to his life. And what is a better way than to celebrate with a dram of Uisge-Beatha (Water of Life), or to others who speak another tongue, Scottish whisky?
Once used as currency in the American Revolution, whisky (or scotch) has become one of Scotland’s biggest exports, conquering France and America among many. While many countries have tried to step up their efforts to better Scotland, some of the best in the world can only be produced within its borders.
During the winter months, it becomes an essential beverage when your wallet is scant but are still wishing for something that can warm you up on the cheap. Due to the abundance of fertile farmland – scotch is traditionally produced by fermenting crops such as barley and wheat – Scotland is packed with a variety of breweries that cater to different palettes and budgets.
With such a variety to show from Scotland, Edinburgh has made trying scotch relatively easy by collating the best of what there is to offer in handy Whisky bars. Don’t worry though, drinking whisky isn’t for everyone’s taste but there are many establishments in the capital city that are open to beginners.
In no order, here are some of the best places to go to try the native tipple.
Whiski Rooms: 4-7 North Bank Street
Perched on a hill overlooking Princes Street, reward yourself for the hike up with one of the 300 varieties on offer at the Whiski Rooms. Visiting in person is a must if you want to peruse their menu, as their larder is so many and everchanging that they can’t list them all online!
Usquabae Whisky Bar and Larder: 2-4 Hope Street
In inspiration of Robbie Burn’s poem, Tam O’Shanter, take in the historical West End of Edinburgh in comfortable surroundings at Usquabae bar. As well as boasting a sizably vast collection of whiskies, try their food – they have a whisky to pair with every meal!
The Black Cat: 168 Rose Street
A cosy and intimate bar, take in the live folk music on most days with a scotch in hand. If that doesn’t meet your tastes, they offer a range of international beers that will surely meet your tastebuds.
The Albanach: 197 High Street
Location, location, location is what is often seen as very important and in one of Edinburgh’s most well-known tourist attractions, this is certainly the case. Stop by this modern venue while stomping up and down Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile and peruse their 250 malt whiskies on offer. Their traditionally Scottish meals are nothing to turn your taste buds up at either.