The Whisky Experience is an attraction where you can learn how whisky is made and how to best enjoy whisky. They have two tours, a forty five minute 11# show and an hour and fifteen minute, £18, tour. We didn’t go to either one, that would be reserved for another day.
(The events of this day actually occurred on August 9th, 2009)
On the first floor, besides the tours themselves, is a fairly large whisky store. Along the walls are numbered sections that contain a distillery or two’s bottlings with an index at the center. Also at the center are some of the more expensive and rarer bottles. We didn’t buy anything on our visit because we planned on visiting a few Speyside distilleries over the next few days and didn’t want to add to our luggage.
Amber is the restaurant located in the basement of the Whisky Experience. Walk downstairs and you can’t miss it, it’s the only thing on the floor. In addition to the restaurant, there is a bar that claims to have 300 different whiskys. While I didn’t count them, I believe that three hundred isn’t an exageration.
We chatted with Steven, who was the bartender and went to whisky school, and he gave us great recommendations on what we should try.
He even introduced us to a new whiskey-influenced/infuesd liqour called Amber, which is maple syrup infused with Macallan (from which you get the name of the restaurant). If you’re a staunch whisky fan, you probably won’t like Amber because the sweetness of the maple syrup and the pecans will turn you off; however if you aren’t a whisky fan, this can ease you in (maybe). (Amber is only available at the Macallan Distillery and at the Whisky Experience, priced at £35 at the Experience) Our friend Rick tried and loved it.
I tried Benrinnes, which is something used most often in blended whisky, and enjoyed it. Next I tried Glen Goyne 21, with my meal of mussels in a whiskey cream sauce, which was recommended by Steven. It’s a Speyside that doesn’t have any peatiness in it, no peat is used in the making of Glen Goyne 21. It’s also a very fairly priced 21 year scotch, at 91#.
We asked him his recommendations and he said Ardberg was a good choice if you wanted to taste the biggest of the smoky/peaty Islays. His best value was the Glen Goyne 21 and he also said that the Balvenie Double Wood was a great choice too because of its finish in Sherry casks.
If you go, ask for Steven and chat him up, he’s very knowledgeable and can help you find something you’ll enjoy.
Lunch at Amber was very good and very affordable. Rick had the trout, I enjoyed their mussels, and Martha and Rachel both had a tomato soup and an egg sandwich. Total bill? 28 pounds. Twenty eight pounds for a restaurant located in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile… unheard of. (That price didn’t include drinks, which were also very reasonable, because we got the scotch at the bar)
If you go to Edinburgh and are a fan of scotch (and even if you’re not), I recommend visiting Amber for lunch because you’ll enjoy it. We hope to return in a few days, after a trip up to the Highlands and some distillery tours (Macallan and Glenlivet if we can manage, maybe sneak in a few along the way too!), before we go back to London.