There are bars and restaurants known the world over for their impressive malt whisky collections. But sometimes a great whisky list sneaks up on you. Here’s what I mean: you’re chilling at the bar in some town you’ve never been to. Maybe a friend took you there for the beer or the bar snacks. Then, all of a sudden, you look up and realize that the back bar is lined with myriad dusty old bottles filled with the golden Celtic nectar. You look around to see if anyone else has noticed and, to your surprise, you find most people sipping other (inferior?) tipples. So, you tempt fate and order a dram, immediately sealing your bond with the knowing barkeep.
It happens to the best of us. For hidden gems like these, as well as establishments famous and infamous for their whisky collections, read on.
Casa Victor Montes, Plaza Nueva, 12, Bilbao, Spain
This is one of those places where unsuspecting whisky lovers will be pleasantly surprised. In Bilbao, one of the great pleasures is pintxo-bar hopping and this more than 150-year-old spot is best known for its bite-sized bar snacks. It also happens to house one of Spain’s largest whisky collections — hundreds of bottles, although fewer than 100 are served. Why? Perhaps because most people drink txakoli wine and Basque cider here.
W 1640, Kurpiu str. 29, Kaunas, Lithuania
You might not expect this Baltic city to have much of a whisky scene. The university town of Kaunas, once considered the country’s cultural capital, is home to this popular whisky bar. Set in an old, cavernous building, it stocks more than 150 bottles from dozens of distilleries around the world, including an impressive array of single malts. Nibble on cured meats and smoked fish with your dram.
The Bon Accord, 153 North Street, Glasgow, UK
Of all the places in the world where you can get a great Scotch, Scotland is a no-brainer. This Glaswegian bar stocks close to 250 malt whiskies, ranging from a couple of pounds per dram to hundreds of dollars for a single rare shot. Chase your Scotch with one of 10 real ales and typical British pub fare, like fish and chips or Yorkshire pudding.
The Athenaeum, 116 Piccadilly, London, UK
In the Mayfair area of London, this boutique hotel has everything a good English hotel should have: traditional afternoon tea service and a killer whisky collection. The 270-strong list includes bottlings from around the world, with a strong focus on single-malt Scotch. The Whisky Bar is famous for its whisky-and-cheese pairings. Who would have guessed that a slice of cheddar is what your whisky has been missing all these years.
The Quaich Bar, 26 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore
It’s the largest whisky bar in all of Asia, featuring a whopping 300-odd bottles from around the world and some 200 available by the glass. Sample several drams at once in one of the meticulously curated flights or blend your own in the bar’s own bottling area. There are also tasting classes held for those looking to boost their Scotch smarts.
Hotel Skansen, Tingshusgatan, Färjestaden, Öland, Sweden
Set amid the ruins of a 400-year-old fortress, this luxury hotel located on Sweden’s second largest island is serious about single malts. It also has a bottling station where guests can make their own blends. But perhaps most impressive is the thousands-strong whisky collection in The Whisky Dram Shop. You might be surprised to learn that Scotland’s amber liquid is a perfect pairing for many Nordic dishes — the kitchen even cooks with it.
The Mash Tun, Kami-Osaki 2F, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Given Japan’s growing domestic production of whisky, often made in the Highlands’ style, it should come as no surprise that Tokyo has a fair share of great whisky bars. This one is like a tiny, cozy slice of Scotland amid the buzz of the Japanese capital with just a few tables and an extensive collection of at least 250 malt whiskies. A rotating cast of craft beers accompanies the stronger stuff.
Angel’s Share 2/F, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
“Whisky at a whole new level,” is the establishment’s slogan. What this translates as is more than 100 bottles from around the world, including a rare 1977 Glenlivet. The bar’s centerpiece is a 180-liter barrel of single-cask Scotch, rotated regularly, that guests can drink from directly. Whisky is also everywhere on the menu, from chips with a tomato whisky sauce to boozy meatballs.
Check out these whisky stories on Food Republic:
- All Hail The Scottish Whisky Flavour Map
- 14 Bottles To Buy: Bourbon, Whisky And Other Brown Sipping Spirits
- Why To Try Japanese Whisky
This post is brought to you by our friends at The Glenlivet