Top 5 Whisky Bars in London
With your average London local pub hosting a more impressive range of single malts than a dedicated whisky bar would have done 15 or 20 years ago, the very best places have therefore had to step up their game significantly to stay ahead of the pack. So the following don’t just serve good whisky, they also offer a particularly extensive selection, backed up by especially knowledgeable or enthusiastic service, that make them a must-visit destination for whisky lovers.
Boisdale Canary Wharf
Boisdale don’t do anything by halves. This vast, sprawling place encompasses a cold seafood bar, a luxurious clubby steakhouse, a cigar terrace and a cabaret/live music venue, where part-owner Jools Holland has been known to appear some nights. But on top of all this, there’s the unbelievably huge whisky list, a 45-page behemoth covering almost every whisky-producing country in the world, and the ability to have a bespoke tasting created just for you.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society
A best-kept whisky secret, the pleasant upstairs tasting rooms of the SMWS play host to what are surely the most fascinating tasting sessions in town. Perhaps even more enjoyable than the whisky itself (all intriguingly anonymised with just code names like 31.72 to identify them) are hilariously inventive tasting notes asking you to look out for notes of “doctor’s medicine cabinet” or “lederhosen”. Members only, starting at £61.50/year (well worth it).
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Proving that an extensive whisky selection need not always be tied to members bars or a swish City location, the otherwise unassuming Lord Wargrave, just off Edgware Road, has 200 different varieties from all over the world, many at an extremely reasonable markup. There’s a particularly strong showing of bourbon, which pairs incredibly well with the home smoked ribs from their American BBQ food menu.
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Whilst it’s single malts that seem to be in favour with most people recently, the Athaenaeum can also boast a large selection of blends, and for that reason is a good place to discover joys such as the Chivas Regal Resolve, or the Antiquary 12yo, relative bargains thanks to their lower profile. The Athaenaeum also have a few “vatted malts”, whiskies made from blending examples from different distilleries into an entirely new product.
Hidden around the back of Guy’s hospital in quiet residential streets, you are very unlikely to accidentally come across the Britannia. But whisky lovers on a budget will travel from all over town to try one of 100+ varieties listed on their blackboards because there is hardly a better place to indulge your love of Scotch for so little money. The eclectic selection and lack of descriptions can be overwhelming, but staff are helpful and make a tasting session here all the more exciting
Image Credit: Ewan Munro, flickr
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Over the seven years Chris Pople has been writing the Cheese and Biscuits blog, he has written about nearly 500 different restaurants, which is far too many by anyone’s standards. During that time he has been lucky enough to be picked as one of the top food blogs in the Times, New Statesman and Esquire magazine, and for the last three years running has been named as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential people. He’s probably in a restaurant right now, scouring the menu for spelling mistakes and waiting for a martini.