Whisky Tasting in the Hotel Du Vin

Stewart and Chris

The Drama

After a long hard day of exam revision I am looking forward to our tasting tonight at the Hotel Du Vin. The weather is suitably cold, which will make the whisky that little bit more warming and enjoyable. The day was quite draining and I need something to perk me up. My favourite drink should do just that. I guess that’s why they call it the ‘water of life’…

Act One

I had been in the Hotel Du Vin briefly a couple of days before. Lucas had said the place looked quite interesting, so I went to check it out. It looked amazing and I quickly arranged a tasting. After seeing the style and quality of the place, I mentioned to Lucas that we should be looking our dapper best for the tasting.

Lucas: Ties?

Chris: I reckon so.

I made my way through the courtyard of the hotel. Lucas, the consummate professional, was waiting for me outside and taking some photos. Even from the courtyard this place looks fantastic. Glass, mahogany, modern luxury.

Chris: Looking sharp mate.

Lucas: Pretty sharp yourself mate.

Chris: Shall we head to the bar?

Lucas: Can’t wait.

We made our way up to the bar where we were met by our hosts for the night, Martin and Stuart.

Would you like to sit here Gents or head down to the whisky snug?

I’ll just explain: The Hotel Du Vin has an elegantly designed bistro. The bar is perched above it on the next floor up. There is also a wine tasting area and the whisky snug with cigar shack.

Lucas: Will head down to the whisky snug. Obviously.

Act Two

The building used to be an old Asylum for insane, but I think it is a bit more relaxing now. Walking into the whisky snug, we both agreed this was the way we wanted to drink whisky from now on (better get those Lottery tickets in Lucas). The whisky snug is a small room with aChris and The Spiegelau view over the courtyard. It’s modern but cozy, with big leather chairs. At the far end, the main focus of the room is the Whisky Cabinet. Like much of the Hotel Du Vin, the devil is in the detail. Whisky books lying around, artful pictures of distilleries, expensive whisky glasses… They have gone out of their way to get some really interesting bottlings in. A 1940 independent bottling of Macallan being the pick of the bunch. At £110 a dram, we decided not to go for it this evening. But it still felt like being a small child in a sweetie shop. We had some ideas of what we were going to taste, but the choice was made difficult by the sheer amount of whiskies they had on offer. I did not count but Martin said there were over 270!

Lucas: I think we should try a country comparison. American, Japanese, Irish and Scottish. You pick the Scotch, dude.

In saying that, Lucas had put the weight of a nation on my shoulders. Cheers mate. Looking at the long list, I could have picked quite a few that could have made a strong defense of Scottish national pride but I wanted to try something I hadn’t tried before and something a bit rarer. We ended up picking 4 whiskies that we had never tried before. And trust me, they made for one interesting tasting! It was difficult to say which we thought was the winner, but myself and Lucas will try our best to decide in future posts. It’s a tough job, as we wrote before, but someone’s got to do it. These are the 4 whiskies we tried.

  • USA – Blanton’s Single Barrel Gold Edition: Made a strong start.
  • Ireland – Bushmills 16 yo: To quote Lucas: the nose and the palate have never met before. A really interesting whiskey.
  • Japan – Yamazaki 12 yo: A complex whisky from top note to finish.
  • Scotland – Bruichladdich Manzanilla cask: I can’t express what we think of this whisky in a few short words, you will have to click the link and read on.

Act Three: What do we think of the Hotel Du Vin

An excellent place to go and have a drink. The atmosphere is perfect, whether you want a quiet tasting in the whisky snug, a bit more vibrant feel in the main bar or professional training in the wine tasting area. The Bistro has a warm ambiance and seems to be booked out quite a few nights of the week. Both Stuart and Martin were very welcoming and their whisky knowledge is good and is growing with their collection (the whisky menu is getting bigger by the day). We mentioned to Stuart that the Islay section was a little bit sparse, and he said they were waiting for more deliveries which is encouraging. I realised just as we were leaving that they had an Australian whisky and a New Zealand whisky. Maybe for the next time.

Deals at the Hotel Du Vin

Whisky Bar

Martin and Stuart are working on a set tasting that will give you some highlights from their expansive collection.

Homecoming – available throughout 2009

Full bottle of Macallan complimentary when booking superior rooms upwards.
Half bottle Macallan complimentary when booking standard.
Complimentary whisky tasting in-house when booking a suite.

This 2009 think 2000 and wine

“Imagine sitting down in our trademark bistro for two courses of stunning classics, a great bottle of wine chosen by the people who know, and coffee all for only £29 for two. The simple things done supremely well for less than you would ever imagine. Thinking of where to dine in 2009? The answer is simple. Think Du Vin.”

To book a room or a table go to Hotel Du Vin website. If you’re jus after a whisky or two, simply head to 11 Bristo Place in Edinburgh.

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Judging honours

World Whiskies Awards Judge Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge Scottish Whisky Awards Judge