WHAT TO DRINK: Whisky at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Leith branch, housed in an 18th-century building, gives the impression that the Society has been around for much longer than it actually has. The Society, which was founded in Edinburgh in 1983 by Phillip “Pip” Hills, acquires whiskies after an arduous tasting process by a panel of representatives. As a non-member, you can sample their drams and food at their 28th Queen St. Branch, which was named Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year at the 2017-2018 Hospitality Awards.
However, you have to visit the Leith branch as a member, or at least as the guest of one. £65 for membership gains you access to The Vaults and their collection of exclusive whiskies that are carefully curated by the Society. Around twenty casks are bottled and released each month, and every whisky bottled by the Society is identified and ordered by its number.
In the member’s room, you’ll be welcomed by roaring fires, wooden tables, leather sofas, and vaulted and bevelled ceilings. Their food is excellent, but also definitely reflects the price point that the decor suggests. But you don’t make the pilgrimage to the flagship location of a world-famous whisky society for its steak and chips. Come ready to taste, and even readier to learn. The Society is populated by whisky enthusiasts whose whisky knowledge spans across Scotland in mind-boggling detail. You’re likely to encounter someone who’ll be more than able to educate you on the Society’s latest offerings. If you like whisky, there’s really nowhere better to spend an evening.