Thanks to the School of Whisky at Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House at the V&A Waterfront, the puritanical notion that whisky is an expensive and acquired taste, only enjoyed by connoisseurs, is finally a thing of the past.
Whether you’ve dabbled in wee drams before or not, Mitchell’s has 45 of Scotland’s finest single malts on offer, making the journey to the Highlands, Lowlands and Islands accessible to all, as you taste your way through this impressive range.
And even if you know a Speyside from an Islay, and have a preference when it comes to peatiness, your taste buds might still be in for a new surprise or two – say The Arran, or Jura (sublime; and exceptional, no less).
Informative + fun whisky tastings
What’s more, the format of the tastings is simple, informative and fun. And that’s the whole idea behind the School of Whisky, says down-to-earth general manager Shaun Lewis, who is a far cry from the snooty Chesterfield-couch-and-cigar clan. “We wanted to introduce the joy of Scottish single malts to the everyday person, and highlight that it’s not solely for the wealthy, as is so often presumed. Many of the whiskies are very affordable.”
In step with this attitude, the tastings are informal, and can be done any time from 11am to 2am, seven days a week. And while we’re busting myths… believe it or not: whisky is a great accompaniment for food. You’ll soon be able to experience this firsthand when the School rolls out its monthly Whisky Nights, which entail slightly more formal tastings combined with food pairings and led by experts.
As for the daily tastings, there’s no rush or set structure, apart from choosing one of the (humorously named) routes, and four of its whiskies, namely:
- Islay Malts – For Peat’s Sake
- The Islands – Fun in the Sun
- The Highlands Malts – There Can Only Be One
- Speyside Malts – Battle of the Teens (all 12-year-olds)
- Regional Champs (includes eight whiskies from all over and allows you to choose one from each route)
Tasting trays are accompanied by the School’s beautifully curated guide, which has everything and more about the routes, distilleries and malts. Staff members are on hand for guidance, to amuse you with tales about family-owned distilleries, and to help you pronounce those tongue-twisters. (Bunnahabhain, anyone?)
The beauty of these leisurely tastings is that somewhere in between the Ardberg and Oban, the Old Pulteney and Cardhu, there’s plenty of lively banter about preferences, and even the staunchest of gin or white-wine drinkers find favourite new flavours. And the verdict on these single malt journeys? It’s unanimous – the ayes have it.
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