I'm just back from a week in Edinburgh, and I've got a couple of things to write about in more detail, but there were a few things I really noticed. I didn't get a chance to visit the SMWS room this time, but whisky is *everywhere*. I dropped into a few shops - especially a big one on the Royal Mile - and there were all sorts of store-named bottlings and blends. None cheap, varying levels of detail and nothing that would tempt me away from distillery/blender bottlings. They were very free flowing with the samples to build a sense of obligation and I can imagine a lot of tourists come away with bottles, alongside fridge magnets, tartan-wrapped fudge and all the other tourist souvenirs on offer. It's absolutely a city that rewards exploration and finding shops like the Caedenheads shop which is not far from Holyrood Palace, but in a quieter part of the city from the bigger ones. I also didn't get a chance to do the Jonnie Walker experience as the more whisky tastings were not at agreeable times, but the hotel barman I chatted with reckoned the experience was good but the bar less so. I did get to try the excellent Scotch Whisky Experience, more on another time. Diageo really have gone all out though on the Johnnie Walker building though, as it appears to be a mix of offices, VIP spaces, experiences and a very polished retail store on the ground floor. Speaking of which, there is some very boring whisky merchandise out there. Some cool bits and pieces, but plenty of the bland and unimaginative. I have no idea why, given the beautiful bottle designs and labels, but that's a whole rant for another day. If you want to drink and happy to put the research in, then Edinburgh has impressed me. The centre is pretty compact, but there's plenty to reward the adventurous. If you visit with family or friends who aren't whisky fans then there's experiences for them too, but not one distillery after another. There's plenty of trains and even internal flights from across the UK to get there too.

Posted by Chris Ratcliff at 2023-12-08 21:50:19 UTC