The Vaults Whisky Bar reopens after £500k refurb with a 15ft-high bar


The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has relaunched its ‘spiritual home’, The Vaults, as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations. The Leith venue has been the Society’s home since it opened in 1983, and the £500k overhaul includes a new 15ft x 30ft oak bar, designed by commercial interior design studio Surface-ID and built by BJM Design Ltd., to house over 2,000 limited edition whiskies.

Described by the SMWS as “whisky in its purest form”, the bottles contain “cask strength’ single malt whiskies which are bottled without being diluted with water, artificially coloured or chill-filtered to prevent the liquid from going cloudy when water or ice is added like the majority of whiskies.”

The centre of the bar is inscribed with the words ‘The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull’ – a quote from the Society’s maverick founder Pip Hills, who was told by many in the industry that a club dedicated to single cask single malt whisky would never work. Four decades on, the Society is now the world’s leading whisky club, with almost 40,000 members in more than 20 countries across the world.

In addition to the huge bar, The Vaults also features a new retail space, new seating, and an  ‘intimate whisky snug’.  A specially commissioned large-scale artwork by Leith-based painter and muralist Shona Hardie features on the walls. The piece, Endless Discoveries, Infinite Adventures, is inspired by almost 50 of the Society’s bottle names which focus on flavour, such as Chocolate mice nibbling rhubarb and Burnt toast in a bookshop. Meanwhile one of its most distinctive features remains untouched – the artwork covering the ceiling by illustrator Bob Dewar, which captures the story of the Society and its approach to whisky.

Andrew Dane, CEO of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, said, “The Vaults has been our spiritual home since 1983 and our 40th anniversary provided the perfect opportunity to give it a new lease of life.

“From its long history and association with wine and spirits, to becoming a home for our members and somewhere whisky fans from all over the world dream of visiting, it really is a special place.

“While history oozes from every pore of the building, and we’ve kept our original features such as Bob Dewar’s ceiling artwork, The Vaults now offers an even greater whisky experience.

“Sharing whisky and exploring flavours is at the heart of everything we do and our striking new bar captures that spirit perfectly. We look forward to welcoming everyone back and raising a glass to the next 40 years.”


Category: Bar & Pub, News, Whisky
Tags: Andrew Dane, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, SMWS, The Vaults