Edinburgh’s Whisky Trail: Tastings, Distilleries, and Whisky Bars

Although it’s a relatively small country, Scotland is known around the world for several things. After all, a disproportionate number of inventors, scientists, and great thinkers have come from this northern country. But when most people think of Scotland, it’s not David Hume or James Watt they’re thinking of. More likely, they’re picturing kilts, bagpipes, the Loch Ness monster, and whisky.

Scottish whisky – spelled without an e, thank you very much – goes back a long way. Whisky takes its name from the Gaelic word uisge, meaning water, but don’t get Scottish whisky confused for water, or you’ll get yourself into a lot of trouble.

The invention of what we call Scotch whisky today is lost in the mists of time. What is known is that the distillation of spirits was being practiced in Scotland by 1495. And in the centuries since, whisky has made itself an indelible part of Scotland’s culinary and cultural heritage.

Books have been written on the history of whisky production and the differences in the spirit made in different regions of Scotland. However, if you want a crash course in this intriguing history, there are few better places in the world than Edinburgh. Home to hundreds of whisky bars, Edinburgh also has its share of local distilleries where you can try incredible drinks and learn more about the craft.

Leave your bags behind at a luggage storage in Edinburgh and venture into the world of whisky for yourself. Whether you’re a novice or a committed fan, you’ll leave the Scottish capital with a much deeper appreciation for the subtlety and complexity of this internationally-known drink.

The Scotch Whisky Experience

There are few better places to begin your exploration than this. Located on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Experience has been educating and entertaining visitors to the capital for over 30 years.

Housing an incredible collection of whisky that spans hundreds of bottles, you can try everything here, from famous international brands to rare vintages that are almost impossible to find anywhere else. 

This company also provides whisky tours where you can learn more about the history of whisky production in the city and will help you pair whisky with delicious cuisine to get the best out of both food and drink. 

There’s also an on-site shop where you can pick up a bottle or two for yourself, and the knowledgeable staff will guide your purchases to make sure you leave with an incredible souvenir. In short, this is a one-stop shop for learning how to appreciate whisky better, and if you’re pressed for time in the city, this is a great place to focus your whisky-drinking efforts.

Kask Whisky

If you’d like to get out in the open air, this company will take you on walking tours to see former Scotch distilleries that were mentioned in a famous book from the 1800s. Although the distilleries are now closed, these walking tours are a wonderful way to see historic areas of Edinburgh and learn more about the way the city used to be, and the knowledgeable guides will help you understand the complex history of Edinburgh. 

At the end of the tour, you’ll be invited to try drams from bottles of whisky dating back to the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. This unique historical tour is an excellent way to appreciate the changing landscape of whisky production in the Scottish capital.

Whiski Rooms

This upscale restaurant is located close to some of Edinburgh’s top attractions, and it makes a fantastic place for a meal if you have the budget for it. It’s also a great venue to try an astounding range of whisky. The bar offers more than 300 different bottles, covering both single malts and blends, and knowledgeable staff can curate your tasting experience and help you pair whisky with the delicious Scottish cuisine on offer. 

Surrounded by the bare stone walls of this elegant restaurant, you’ll truly feel like you’re getting a taste of Scottish history while the whisky flows.

Holyrood Distillery

The distilleries of Edinburgh aren’t what they used to be. After their 18th-century heyday, many of Edinburgh’s distilleries went out of business, with their properties transformed into factories or housing. However, in recent years, there’s been a resurgence in the idea of urban distilling, and this centrally located distillery is at the forefront of that movement.

Holyrood Distillery takes a creative approach that incorporates the age-old traditions of whisky-making with the latest cutting-edge techniques and influences from around the world. As well as whisky, they also distill other spirits like gin and rum, combining different techniques in the quest for something unique. Take a tour of the distillery, and you’ll learn what this young business brings to the local whisky scene. Plus, you’ll be able to sample some of their most popular products and buy a bottle or two for yourself.

Discovering whisky in Edinburgh

As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh may be the perfect place to improve your whisky knowledge. Along with the incredible bars and distilleries of the city itself, it’s only a short journey to dive into the Speyside whisky region and try some of the world’s most in-demand whisky brands. Edinburgh’s best whisky bars and experiences offer amazing food along with delicious whiskys and a fascinating way to explore Scottish history.

Leave your bags behind at an Edinburgh luggage storage and enjoy a glass or two for yourself. No matter where you are in your whisky journey, you’re sure to find a great way to enhance your appreciation here.