7 of the best places to enjoy a whisky in during the Fringe

We've picked out some of the best bars and pubs to grab a whisky in during the Fringe.

Published 1st Aug 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

With all the madness of the Fringe going on all around you it can be helpful to find yourself a bar or pub to escape to and enjoy a wee dram or two.

With that mind we've scoured the capital in search of the best watering holes in which to enjoy some whisky during the Festival.

Cannonball Restaurant and Bar

(356 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF)


Picture: Cannonball Restaurant and Bar

One of two new bars making their Festival debuts, Cannonball have embraced the Fringe and alongside partners Glengoyne are giving visitors the chance to meet the Highland whisky brand's ambassador as part of their whisky supper.

But if you are just looking to relax and avoid the Fringe madness then the bar itself caters to any whisky fan's dreams with knowledgeable staff and a selection of over 120 of the finest malt whiskies, including the full Glengoyne and Tamdhu collections, so you know you'll never be short on choice.

Located at the very top of The Royal Mile, the picturesque bar is easy to get to and with it being in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, any tourist wishing to enjoy the full Scottish experience will struggle to find whisky in a more idyllic location in the city.


(119 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SG)


Picture: Whiski

Situated in the middle of the Royal Mile, this bar is an easy find for any tourist (or local) looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Fringe and just enjoy a nice dram in a relaxing atmosphere.

The first thing you notice is the gantry which is always well stocked and filled with a range that would make any whisky collector jealous (there's over 300).

Whiski provides all day dining which means no matter the time of day, you can grab a bite to eat while you sit and admire their excellent gantry.

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The bar also has the benefit of live music seven nights a week, meaning it can’t be beat when it comes to great atmosphere.

Whiski Rooms

(4-7 North Bank Street, Edinburgh EH1 2LP)


Picture: Whiski Rooms

Expanding on Whiski’s original idea and cranking it up a notch or two is the Whiski Rooms, which is also situated near the Royal Mile, though in a far grander venue.

Perched on the Mound,  the bar offers dramatic views over Princes Street and the Rooms offers daily tutored tastings, a dedicated whisky shop and it just so happens to also be home to one of only four Ardbeg embassies in Scotland.

So, if you’re a fan of peaty whiskies and Ardbeg in particular, a trip to the Whiski Rooms is a special treat.

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Bow Bar

(80 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH)


Picture: Contributed

Located on Victoria Street (also known as West Bow), one of the most spectacular streets in the Old Town, and situated close to both the Castle and the Grassmarket, the Bow Bar is one for fans of truly traditional pubs.

Hidden behind its unassuming frontage of blue paint and plain glass windows, you’ll find a classic gantry filled to the brim with whisky – over 250 – and a traditional bar that offers more than its fair share of real ales.

With friendly staff and a cosy atmosphere, this is a real hidden gem in the heart of Edinburgh.

Amber Restaurant 

(354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE)

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Picture: The Scotch Whisky Experience

For award-winning food as well as a great location and over 330 whiskies, you can’t go wrong with the Amber Restaurant and its accompanying whisky bar.

The restaurant, which is part of the Scotch Whisky Experience, offers whisky and food matches as well as fantastic Scottish Tapas.

Also on offer are a selection of regional tasting trays for those of you who want to get the most out of your whisky tasting experience.

We also recommend you take a look at the McIntyre Whisky Gallery, a beautifully lit bar which offers direct access to the Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Whisky Collection (described as one of the 7 wonders of the Scotch whisky world).

Usquabae Whisky Bar & Larder

(2-4 Hope St, Edinburgh EH2 4DB)


Picture: Usquabae Whisky Bar & Larder

If you’re looking to enjoy your dram in historical surroundings of the Edinburgh Vaults then Usquabae is the place for you.

With over 400 whiskies on offer, you'll be able to try anything from blends to single cask single malts from the sixties and everything in between.

Run by some of the most knowledgeable whisky geeks the capital has to offer, there's always a tour guide on hand to take you through the world of Scotch whisky be you a beginner or a seasoned veteran.

Too much choice? Well why not take away the hassle of having to choose by checking out their excellent tailored tastings that include some cracking themes; the Closed Distillery flight comprises of drams like 1977 Port Ellen and a 1981 Brora while the Through the Decades flight gives a vertical tasting through the decades.

Don't forget to check out their impressive food menu, which is filled with delicious Scottish delights, if you're feeling peckish and the bar staff will be sure to help you pick the perfect dram to go with whatever you choose.

Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar @ Scottish Malt Whisky Society, Queen Street

(28 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JX)

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

This one is a little ahead of the game as it's currently not open yet but should be in time for the festival.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is set to launch a new whisky bar, as part of a major refurbishment of its 28 Queen Street venue.

The Kaleidoscope Bar is being dubbed as an improvement on its predecessor, which already set a high standard, so we expect the new offering from the SMWS to become the new place to go to enjoy some cracking drams.

Promising around 200 whiskies - with approximately 30 guest whiskies - the SMWS say the new bar will be "unique because of its constantly changing menu of whisky flavours".

Definitely one to watch out for.


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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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