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The allure of Scottish whisky touring has always been its old-school charm: windswept moors, tartan-draped country inns, white-whiskered gents nosing tumblers by the fireplace. But among the peat, plaid and pomp that visitors crave is a new-school Scotch scene, replete with wax-moustache mixologists, modern art collaborations and food and whisky pairings that break all the rules. Here’s a sample of the best of old and new.

Old School: Highland Park, Kirkwall
Located in the craggy Orkney Islands’ capital, Highland Park, famed for its single malt, embodies the traditional romance of its craft. Founded in 1798, this distillery makes whisky the way it always has. Push chariots distribute soaked barley on the malting floor; grains are turned by hand and then smoked over a peat fire to produce the Scotch’s signature smoky-sweet flavour. Guests can try their hand at turning, taste freshly toasted grains, tour the cask cellar and sample the final product in the tasting room. (Sign up for the Connoisseur or Magnus Eunson Tour to sip some of the older single malts.) Well worth the detour from the mainland, a visit to Scotland’s most northerly distillery is a purist’s whisky experience.

Specialty cocktail at Bramble BarSpecialty cocktail at Bramble Bar

New School: Bramble Bar, Edinburgh
In keeping with the revival of the speakeasy, Bramble Bar is a place for those in the know. An unmarked door on Queen Street leads to a low-lit subterranean hideaway containing all manner of secluded nooks for its clientele of hip, young Edinbronians. The bar specializes in handcrafted whisky cocktails, particularly old-fashioneds, which mixologists concoct so many ways that the one drink could have its own menu. Go for the Affinity Cocktail, an old-fashioned made with Glenmorangie 10-year-old and Byrrh. Barrel aged, the cocktail is bottled to order and wax sealed in a personalized glass mickey. Once it’s poured into a tumbler over ice with a twist of orange, its presentation is matched only by its perfectly balanced flavour.



Comments… or add another


Monday, December 3rd 2012 18:11
Would have discussed the differences in Smokeyness of different Scotches, not all have a heavy Peaty aroma. And why different Geographical areas have different flavours. An Islay Single Malt is different from a Spey side Malt for very specific reasons.


Monday, December 3rd 2012 18:54
get my dram ready!

suzette Jestin

Monday, December 3rd 2012 21:11

Peter Armstrong

Tuesday, December 4th 2012 01:29
Very interesting article on both Highland Park Whiskey and the Bramble Bar in Edinburgh. I enjoy whiskey and watching the video link to Highland Park the fellow there was very "enlightening" and intersting review of how to nose & taste. As I am origionally many moons ago from Edinburgh I will be looking to find this bar on Queen street. Their web page link is very well done. Thanks for the information and your presentation especially the black & white photograph give very clear and intriguing character. regards....

Ian Alex Urquhart

Tuesday, December 4th 2012 17:12
Family roots in Ferintosh where the dew was first (legally) distilled, I can only wait to return for a sip of Orkney's offering.

Norris N.

Monday, February 4th 2013 20:36
Hey, Ian B. Always the critic, huh. You expected an encyclopedic review? Most of us who do appreciate single malt are already well versed in the variances in peat flavors.
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