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Suggestions for Whisky Tasting/Overview in Edinburgh (Cadenhead's Currently Not an Option)

Hi, I am wondering if someone might have a suggestion for whisky tasting in Edinburgh and/or a place that would provide a basic overview or refresher on Scottish whisky. After reading the information in the Rick Steves guidebook on this topic, I had intended to visit Cadenhead's, but its website states "no tours or tastings will be available for the time being." I think a visit to Cadenhead's might now be for a person who knows quite a bit about what he or she might want to purchase.

I have watched a couple of YouTube videos on the Scottish Whisky Experience, and they do seem to validate Rick's characterization of it as "Malt Disney." I have looked over the information for Mercat Tours Whisky Tour and Tastings, but its description isn't as informative as I wish it were. The Whiski Rooms Shop seems as if it might be a good choice. Has anyone experienced either of these options recently or another?

Rick Steves guidebook provides quite a good overview of Scottish whisky, so I will review that again before our trip (leaving in a week). My husband and I both enjoy a whisky now and then, but we are far from beginner sommelier status. Our go-to whiskey is actually Jameson's (yes, I know it's Irish).

I guess what I am hoping for (and had thought Cadenhead's might provide) is a basic primer on the topic and some guidance in types and selections from regions we might want to try. I was hoping to fit this in ... in our first couple of days in Edinburgh before we take the train up to Inverness. I am not looking for in-depth information about the process of making whisky, and I am not looking for a distillery tour (we will be visiting a distillery as part of a Rabbie's tour later on and may visit the distillery in Oban during our time there).

I always appreciate the guidance I receive via these forums. Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might have.

Posted by
461 posts

Doing a google search, the Whiski Rooms on North Bank Street offer daily whisky tastings which they describe as 'fun and informative way to learn about how scotch whisky is made and how to enjoy and really savour the different flavours within various whiskies".

I've not done one, but reviews on Trip Advisor seem positive. The bar has over 300 whiskies and they do food.

Posted by
5669 posts

Are you strictly going to be in Edinburgh? I have only done one tour of a distillery. It was Blair Athol in Pitlochry. I learned a lot. Also, there is a wonderful book that you should read. It's called Raw Spirit by Iain Banks and is about whisky, roadtrips and Scotland.

Posted by
90 posts

Hi, Pamela. Thank you for your response! 😀 I just downloaded an audio version of Raw Spirit. 😀 It sounds as if it will be a perfect "read" for the flight over.

In addition to Edinburgh, we are going to be staying over in Inverness, Ullapool and Thurso while on a Rabbie's tour, Portree, Glencoe, Oban, and Glasgow (and parts in between). I had hoped to stop over in Pitlochry on our way to Inverness by train, but it does not seem that there is a left luggage option. I also though we might be able to drive to Pitlochry during the days we will have a car. I don't know if that will be doable or not. Would it be too terribly a long drive from Glencoe?

Yesterday, I found a Highland Malt Whisky Experience hosted at MacGregor's bar in Inverness, and I thought that might suffice. ? Maybe? I have been astounded by the number of offerings on the menu at the sites I have visited online.

Posted by
5 posts

I have no advice, but instead another request. My husband and I are also staying in Inverness and have booked tours with Rabbies but their Speyside tours fall on days that won't work for us. We'd really like to see the Speyside area and stop at Glenfiddich and wouldn't mind additional distillery stops for contrast. Rabbie's tours fall on days that conflict with other scheduled activities. So I'm looking for another way to see Speyside. A rental car paired with whiskey tasting doesn't seem wise. Happy Tours has complaints that they cancel when their tours aren't filled. which makes me reluctant to book with them. I don't want to pay an arm & a leg (much over $100 per person) for a tour when I also have to pay for lunch and distillery tour fees. Does anyone have another tour company to recommend. or know a local who likes to drive tourists for reasonable fees?

Posted by
461 posts

I did a goolge search and there are several whisky tours running from Inverness, but many of them are private tours costing several hundred pounds... Happy Tours seem to be the only one that does reasonably priced tours. Reviews on Trip Advisor are positive, although they don't include any for the Speyside tour. However, they do state that a tour would be cancelled if there are less than five people booked.