The Best Whisky Bars in the UK

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

The stereotype of whisky bars can conjure up images of a mindboggling array of bottles and a somewhat intimidating environment for all but the hardcore drinker or whisky connoisseur. But the last decade has seen a new wave of whisky bars appear that are drastically changing this perception to include all types of drinkers.

So, whether you simply wish to pop in for a quick dram, go to a tutored tasting event or learn what you like, there is now something for everyone. We look at eight of the best Scotch whisky bars that can be found across the UK, from traditional to dynamic and groundbreaking.

Black Rock, London

A truly trendsetting bar in The City of London that is a must visit for any self-respecting whisky fan. They do things a little differently to traditional whisky bars by listing and displaying whiskies by flavour profile, rather than location or origin. Classic cocktails and whisky classes are also on offer.

Choose your style and you will find an array of Scotch, Irish, American, and new world whiskies vying for your attention in the same cabinet. Black Rock aims to aid customers with their choices and was a true game changer when it opened. Many have followed suit by arranging their menus in a similar way.

Boisdale, London

The Canary Wharf branch of Boisdale is Whisky 1901’s spiritual home and where our whisky dinners are hosted. The venue oozes elegance and sophistication and boasts a huge collection of whisky that is available by the dram.

With over 500 whiskies listed in a chunky menu there is something for everyone from core range classics to the rare and expensive. The slick surroundings retain a cosy feel despite the large size of the place. Private rooms, such as where our whisky dinners are held, are also available.

Throw in some live jazz and a walk-in cigar humidor with cigar sommelier and it does not get much better. If you prefer more of an old school Scottish charm, then you can visit the original branch in Belgravia.

The Bon Accord, Glasgow

This legendary whisky bar on the edge of Glasgow city centre has an old-school pub vibe but with a stellar selection of Scotch available. Regular expressions sit alongside new bottlings and rare expensive offerings. All are competitively priced. It also has a great selection of whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

The Bon Accord offers a friendly welcome and is well worth the extra walk or short taxi ride out from central Glasgow. The food is simple fare, but hearty and tasty – the pie and mash are a particular highlight. The combination of great whisky and homely atmosphere will make any evening slip by in the blink of an eye.

The Bow Bar, Edinburgh

Edinburgh is awash with whisky bars and venues but few in Scotland’s capital have the charm, selection, and atmosphere of The Bow Bar. A thick whisky menu will assist in making your choice of dram, which ranges from the well-known to the quirky independent bottling. This is updated regularly to feature new releases.

The breadth of their range and its pricing, especially considering its central touristic location, are both impressive. If you are ever in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh, then you must pop in for a dram and enjoy the friendly vibe. It is normally busy but worth the wait.

Grain & Glass, Birmingham

Tucked away in Birmingham’s trendy Jewellery Quarter is Grain & Glass, the city’s first dedicated whisky bar and tasting room. With over 300 whiskies and a selection of classic and in-house created cocktails on offer, you will be spoilt for choice. A whisky menu and superbly knowledgeable staff will guide you on your whisky journey.

This whisky bar has a bespoke tasting room and an interactive membership scheme. They host several events and tutored tastings each week, often featuring food pairings. Not only that but Grain & Glass also run an annual whisky festival in the city – Whisky Birmingham – which is well worth a visit.

The Highlander Inn, Craigellachie

There are many examples of the classic ‘whisky pub’ dotted around rural Scotland, but few are as legendary as The Highlander Inn in the Speyside village of Craigellachie. Located just a short distance from the Speyside Way, River Spey and the village’s distillery, this pub offers the warmest of welcomes.

The award-winning bar has an extensive selection of Scotch whisky with particular emphasis on Speyside malts. Owner Tatsuya has also collated one of the largest UK collections of whisky from his native Japan after falling in love with The Highlander and purchasing the pub several years ago. A real hidden gem.

The Malt Room, Inverness

This is the type of bar that Inverness should have had years ago given that the capital of the Highlands is surrounded by several distilleries and boasts the famous Speyside region on its doorstep.

The Malt Room is the epitome of the modern whisky bar: achingly cool, compact, a great whisky selection, slick furnishings and finished to high standard.

A tasting room is also available upstairs which hosts tutored tastings and brand-led events and musical whisky gigs. Add in a good mix of classic whisky cocktails, local Scottish craft beers and a creative set of whisky flights, and you have a real Highland hotspot.

The Pot Still, Glasgow

The Pot Still is the classic old-school whisky bar. It is a Glasgow institution and known the world over amongst whisky fans, many of whom make their pilgrimage to it when in Scotland. The selection of Scotch whiskies is vast, reaching up to the ceiling with ladders used to reach them.

The helpful staff will aid you with your selection, whether you want a quick dram or a flight of different Scotches. Whisky is the focus, but they do also offer a simple yet tasty Scotch pie. This award-winning bar is often packed but a dram while taking in the buzzy atmosphere is not to be missed when in Glasgow.

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