A Quick Dram, a New Year & a New (ish) Bar


To begin 2017, Tiger, Graeme, Jason & I have vowed to blog more, and get Edinburgh Whisky Blog back to being a busy website again. Tiger has been doing well to keep it going, but we 3 will be chipping in more this year. Lucas is taking a step back, and we wish him well. He may make a reappearance, but for now it is us 4 (plus potential guest bloggers).

To celebrate the New Year, and the first day of 2017 without a fuzzy head, I took a wander through crisp, frostbitten Edinburgh to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, specifically to their new Kaleidoscope Bar, which is their new public bar in the Queen Street Venue. Check out Tiger’s great interview with Charlie Maclean on the inspiration behind the bar here. Suffice to say, it is a big bold step for the Society. It opens their doors to the public plus it has a mixture of Society bottlings, and a section devoted to unusual rare collectible bottles.

(Launch Night)

I have to say, I really like the space. When I visited, the lights were down low, the music was a pretty eclectic but cool mix, and the bar was sparsely populated. I settled into one of the booths with a half of 10 storey malt bomb (a brilliant 80 shilling by Alechemy) and a dram of Kavalan Solist, and relaxed. The danger with warmth, beer and comfort after a cold walk is you might not leave.

At first when I got into the bar, I did worry about its space slighty (if larger groups were to come in) but there is another room that can be used as overflow. It has a relaxed but new feel to it, which is a nice contrast to Leith (relaxed, but in an older, more stately home kind of way). I think the music and lighting make it more welcoming than Queen Street was previously.

On to the dram, Kavalan Solist Fino Sherry Single Cask. It has lots of chocolate and hazelnut notes, mixed in with some spicy pork notes, a dry woody, ashy note, and lots more spice at the finish. I like the chocolate and spice, but these dry, woody notes are a bit strange and not 100% welcome. I think it is the kind of bottle you would want to get to know, even if it is just to keep topping up the spice and chocolate notes, but the woody note is difficult to deal with. At £14 a dram, it is relatively fairly priced for a bottle that is getting around 220 a bottle at auction when fees are taken into account (although above my price range to have more than one). A bit torn about this dram to be honest.

The Alechemy 10 Storey Malt Bomb is brilliant. So balanced, chocolaty, creamy and biscuity, finishing in lots of charred notes. When drank with the beer, both become lovely and treacly.

So overall, nice bar (for small groups or a date), interesting dram, cracking beer.

Chris Hoban

SMWS Queen Street Kaleidoscope Bar

City Centre Ward, Scotland, EH2 1JX, GB

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