The last trip to Edinburgh yielded simply the best place to drink Scotch whisky in all of Scotland, The Scotch Malt Whisky Societyin Leith, Edinburgh. This place is everything you want it to be, secretive enough not to be overrun by uncouth tourists, accessible enough to feel at home not knowing as much as you should about Scotch Whisky. Located a short ride from downtown Edinburgh in the seaside port town of Leith, the society is tucked away in a majestic stone edifice, and while you need a member to give you access, becoming one is a no brainer if you are any sort of lover of whisky.
Once inside you realize you have arrived in a holy land dedicated to malted liquor. Rich wood paneled walls and soft leather davenports greet you, as does a staff so knowledgeable about the hundreds of bottles behind them it will make you feel like you are in the Oxford of mixology.
While the appointments of the room and the sophistication of its caretakers are formidable, the true magic is actually how the society presents each variety of whisky. The process is nothing less than sublime; casks are purchased directly from the finest distilleries around Scotland, then, when the society deems each whisky properly matured, they bottle them and add their own unique label. The labels are a bit of poetry in themselves, often with fun names or poignant meanings, that are meant to capture the spirit of the spirit within. Other then the age of the whisky, no other information of it’s pedigree is given, meaning, that the whisky is only judged by its quality in the mouth, not by the distillery it comes from or any other superficial precedent.
In this manner you are truly leveling the playing field when it comes to your desires and tastes, and are judging the spirits solely on their merit to you, the consumer. It’s a really beautiful sentiment, and a fine way to not only enjoy the true drink of Scotland, but a fine way to look at life in general as well.
Another added perk is that because the whisky is purchased by the cask and matured by the society, you can often sample brands that would normally cost you an arm and leg in a regular pub. I had a few whiskies older than myself and can only say that I get much better in time.
When you are done running the gauntlet, making new friends, and learning everything you ever wanted to about this amazing mouth treat, you can take home a few bottles for not only a fraction of the cost, but from a place so special you’ll flash a smile every time you pass the bottle on your shelf for sure, even after it’s long been emptied by delightful gluttony.