Top Ten Whisky Bars of Scotland


Brought to you by Gordon & MacPhail

Following on from the mystery shoppers feedback during our recent awards judging, it was clear that we have some great whisky bars. DRAM decided to take a look at the Top 10 and to develop a model that would look at visitor feedback.

We used metrics from Facebook, Tripadvisor, and a combination of other providers, and then applied an average score to allow for population bias. There were a few surprises and a few surprise omissions from the Top 10. We had to use a standard metric so, if you want to get into the Top 10, make sure to get some comments, ratings, and reviews on social media.

1. THE MALT ROOM, Church Street, Inverness

D33E179A-57BF-4C68-BEF6-E828C5A52DBBThe Malt Room in Inverness won our G&M Connoissuers Choice Whisky Bar of the Year gong this year and they also came out on top in our statistical analysis. Statistically, it is also the best whisky bar in the country! The Malt Room was conceived in a London Airbnb by Inverness native and bar manager Matt Macpherson and Alex Hancock. Over the next few nights while Matt was hosted by Alex they chatted about their shared love of whisky. On the third evening, and several whiskies in, Matt described his frustration that there was nowhere he could send patrons when they asked for a specialist bar where they could drink great whisky. It was at that moment that they decided to make the first (and best) whisky bar in Inverness. And, as it turns out, Scotland. The bar opened in July 2017, and since then it has gone from strength to strength not only do their tastings regularly sell-out but over lockdown it really bedded itself in with more than 240 live Lockdown Gigs. Here is our favourite review and probably the best review of all of the bars in the Top 10: “In summary, two of the best afternoons/evenings I’ve ever had in over 50 years of living on this planet and the Malt Room for me was like I’d died and gone to Heaven!”

2. CURLY COO BAR, Barnton Street, Stirling

Curly CooThe Curly Coo, now in Stirling, first opened in Crieff in 2009, and this bar comes in at Number 2. Owner Mandy Silver opened the bar in Stirling in 2013 and it remains the only whisky bar in the town. It now offers customers a selection of more than 130 bottles, all curated by Mandy who is now an expert. “Whisky has turned into my passion. It’s such an amazing product, that is so lovely and exciting, each bottle has its own distinct taste. I take selling my drams very seriously, and it is very important to me that a customer enjoys their dram; so I like to spend a little time chatting with a whisky drinker, ensuring they choose the right dram for themselves”. I am sure lots of people feel like this customer, “Was in Stirling for a day trip and after a lovely day going around the area we went to the Curly Coo pub (i read about it online), this place is defo whisky heaven, what an amazing selection she has. We had some drinks which were very enjoyable and on the way out i purchased a “curly coo” whisky glass to add to my collection. Was a nice end to our day trip and we will defo be back next time we are in Stirling!”

3. THE ARDSHIEL HOTEL, Campbeltown, Kintyre

Ardshiel HotelThe Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown has a fantastic whisky bar. You can’t miss the passion for whisky with all sorts of bottles covering the walls and shelves in the bar and the lounge. And with over 700 different malts, many which are rare and exclusive, it attracts visitors from far and wide. The hotel itself was built in 1877 and was designed by John Burnet Senior, a prominent architect of the time and was once the home of one of the towns distilling families. Today it is run by Flora Grant and Marion MacKinnon, who bought the hotel in 2008. A reviewer said of this award winning pub… ”We have a warm welcome, superb table in the bar and the food and whisky selection was magnificent. The bar tender was absolutely tremendous and he helped us find some lovely whisky. All in all this was a fabulous evening, in lovely surroundings and thoroughly enjoyed it.”


4. USQUABAE, Hope Street, Edinburgh

C7BA6917-5AFC-4AE9-AF95-93EC6AAC617BUsquabae is a basement bar in Edinburgh’s West End and has been owned by Caledonian Heritable for years. Dr Chris White, Usquabae’s General Manager, has hand picked a huge collection – over 400 bottles – of whisky for the bar. It too was previously a recipient of the accolade Whisky Bar of the Year.

A customer said, “Wow what a whisky lovers paradise. If you love a great individual meal and drink experience give this ago, food and atmosphere was great.”

5. CASC, Stirling Street, Aberdeen

CASC celebrates its 8th birthday this year. In the heart of Aberdeen’s Merchant Quarter, this is truly an original concept bar and is without doubt a unique. The bar is specialists in not just Whisky but craft beer, Cuban cigars and artisan coffee too. As they themselves say, “we have more beer than most taprooms, more whisky than most whisky bars, more cigars than most tobacconists.” As they explain on their website, “Pairing cigars with beer and whisky is something my old man and I have been doing since way before CASC opened it’s doors in 2013. We knew people were drinking whisky and beer but rarely together, and certainly not with a good stogie in their chops. This is something we’ve been doing for years and it seemed we were pretty much the only two who truly mixed things up.”CASC has a focus on single cask, limited release and independent bottles and claims to have one of the best selection of whisky ‘you’ll ever find’.

This Tripadvisor reviewer had this to say, “If you like craft beer and/or whisky I’d definitely say you should visit here. The choices are great. The amount of whisky on offer is outstanding and there’s just so much choice. We love going here. The atmosphere is always really nice and the staff are a great laugh and really nice to talk to. Also very helpful”.

6. THE BLACK CAT, Rose Street, Edinburgh

The Black Cat is the only independent public house in Rose Street in Edinburgh and opened in 2011. The Financial Times Magazine once named it “one of Edinburgh’s top five places to hang out”. It is owned by Chris Miles – aka Chico. It has one of the largest whisky collections in the New Town with well over 130 bottles. As well as an extensive range of whisky it also has regular quizzes and live music nights and gets rave reviews from locals and visitors alike. “Such a welcoming place, got a taster flight of whisky and a few pints, the guy behind the bar was very knowledgeable with the whiskies and made me a flight to my taste, came over to our table and told us about them which was very nice. Never want to leave this place when we visit, my favourite pub in Edinburgh”.


7. THE MASH TUN, Broomfield Square, Aberlour

Owned and run by Mark and Karen Braidwood, The Mash Tun, situated in the heart of the whisky trail in Speyside is an outstanding whisky bar. Formerly known as “The Station Bar” the building was originally constructed in 1896 by James Campbell, a sea captain, who instructed a marine architect to design the building in the shape of a small ship. A pledge contained in the title deeds, made in 1963 by the owner at the time states that since Dr Beeching closed the railway in Aberlour then a name change was appropriate – but that if ever a train should pull up at the station again then the pub will revert to “The Station Bar”. The bar has over 100 whisky’s and as this customer says, the Mash Tun knows them all.

“Staff are exceptionally knowledgeable on their drinks and food and served with a great attitude despite being very busy. Would come back and stay here next time! Highly recommend for families and small groups. Particularly good for those who like whisky!”

8. THE POT STILL, Hope St, Glasgow

The Pot Still is one of the oldest bars in the Top 10, proving that consistency and great service – and a love affair with whisky – pays off. This is another previous Dram Award winner, picking up Whisky Bar of the Year in 2016. The Murphy family took ownership on 28th Nov 2011 with Dad Brian, brother Frank and sister Geraldine in the driving seat. The bar now boasts over around whiskies from all over the world and it certainly has one of the best personalities in the trade behind bar.

This well-loved bar is appreciated far and wide and this customer says, “Called in while on a visit to Glasgow after attending the Passport Office. What a gem of a place, an absolutely mind boggling range of whiskys to try. The staff were really helpful and knowledgeable about their subject giving me pointers as to which would suit my tastes. The ones I tried really hit the spot, so to speak. I also met a lovely local gentleman there and we had a great chat before he had to catch his bus. If you’re ever in Glasgow you must visit, truly. I only wish that every town had a bar like this, it would be heaven!”.

9. BON ACCORD, North Street, Glasgow

Bon AccordThis whisky bar is an iconic bar that sits beside the Mitchell Library on North Street. The McDonagh family have been running the bar for 20 years and, as a family business, they are passionate about their work. They have over 400 whiskies on their gantry, and they say that the pinnacle of their collection is the 70-year-old Glenlivet and the 72-year-old Macallan. It started out as a pub specialising in real ale and pub food, and, over the years, it has grown into a specialist whisky bar. They are home to The Bon Accord Whisky Society and many other whisky societies in Glasgow and they help run Glasgow’s Whisky Festival. More recently, they have even opened an online whisky shop.  A regular says, “Has to be one of the best places in Glasgow. Staff are always amazing. Food is always amazing. Drink selection is always amazing. There’s no airs and graces here, they know who they are and absolutely smash it. Been here countless times and never leave disappointed!! Hats off to everyone there”.

10. THE WHISKI BAR AND RESTAURANT, High Street, Edinburgh

The Whiski Bar and Restaurant, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, offers all day dining as well as live music and an excellent Whisky bar with over 300, mostly malt, whiskies. Anne and Gary Still took over the bar in 2006, rebranding and re-positioning it to focus on whisky and Scottish cuisine.

There are some great reviews on both the food and drinks and this is what one customers said on TripAdvisor, “My wife and I popped in for a few whisky cocktails which were by far the best cocktails that we had on our Edinburgh trip. The bar staff were friendly and we have no complaints towards the service. The bar itself has great array of whisky’s for the connoisseur”.