8 of the best places to get a whisky during the Edinburgh Festival

The Festival season descends on Edinburgh soon, here are some of the best places to grab a dram of whisky (or two) as you enjoy the atmosphere.

Published 1st Aug 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

In August, Festival season begins in Edinburgh and the city is transformed into a hub of live performances, interactive experiences and gigs.

Should be lucky enough to be heading to the capital in time, you may find you need a whisky or two to digest just exactly what you've witnessed that day.

Here are some of the best places in Edinburgh in which to grab a dram, enjoy a tasting and learn more about Scotland's national drink.

Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar @ Scottish Malt Whisky Society, Queen Street

(28 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JX)

Edinburgh whisky

The newly renovated Queen Street premises of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has finally opened its new whisky bar to the public (it was previously member's only).

And alongside the 200 rare single malt whiskies and other spirits that are available, the bar is holding a three dram tutored whisky tasting in the company of one of its knowledgable brand ambassadors all throughout the festival.

Be warned though, the majority of their whiskies come in at cask strength, meaning a wee glass of water on the side shouldn't be shrugged at.

Bow Bar

(80 West Bow Edinburgh EH1 2HH)

Edinburgh Whisky

That's what we call a gantry. Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

If you are looking for a real taste of Edinburgh, then you can't go wrong with the Bow Bar.

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Squirreled away on Victoria Street you’ll discover a a classic gantry filled to the brim with whisky – over 300 – and a traditional bar that offers more than its fair share of real ales.

• READ MORE: The best events involving alcohol at the Edinburgh Festival 2017

Whiski Rooms

(119 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SG)

Edinburgh Whiksy

Picture: Whiski Rooms

Located just off the Royal Mile, the Whiski Rooms is the perfect place to grab a dram and unwind after a hectic day at the festival.

Perched on the Mound, the bar offers dramatic views over Princes Street and 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.

It also hosts folk music on a nightly basis during the Fringe, making it a great place to to finish a night off or serve as a pit-stop between shows.

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The Scotch Malt Whisky Experience

(354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE)

Edinburgh Whisky

Picture: The Scotch Whisky Experience

Should drinking whisky not be enough, then you can learn all about the history, and processes involved in the making, of the uisge beatha at the Scotch Whisky Experience.

Here you'll be able to enjoy tastings, tours (of their virtual distillery) and even food pairings.

You can also 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)

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Edinburgh Whisky

Picture: Usquabae

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.

Teuchter's Landing

(1c Dock Pl, Edinburgh EH6 6LU)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Located on the popular Shores of Leith, the Teuchter’s Landing is a great place to grab a pint, head to their beer garden and soak in the sunshine during Scotland’s two weeks of Summer (usually spread across individual days in May and August) but should you decide to stay inside, and there’s good reason to, you’ll find an excellent array of over 100 whiskies, including single malts, blends and international whiskies.

Best of all they have the Hoop of Destiny, a kind of adult carnival game that sees the prize being a dram of whisky instead of a stuffed toy, and the kind of fun that all whisky bars should engage in.


Should you be looking to buy some bottles of whisky or perhaps indulge in a tutored tasting then Edinburgh also has some of the country's best whisky shops to enjoy.


(172 Canongate, Royal Mile, EH8 8BN)

Picture: Flickr/Christophe Losberger (sitatof)

Ideally located on the Canongate, the Cadenhead’s whisky shop is a true hidden gem in plain sight. Not only are the guys in the shop some of the most knowledgeable around, the whisky on offer is both excellent value and great quality. For tastings, the shop offer their own regional tastings (you need to book in advance) which include 6 whiskies – five single malts and one blend – and sees each of Scotland’s regions, styles and categories covered for just £25 per person.

Ideal for the curious beginner.

Should you want something a little more personalised, say you want to learn more about how cask styles or age affect the whisky, or you just really like a particular region, then the staff will gladly tailor a bespoke tasting for you for £35 (and above depending on the whiskies you want) per person, again you will need to book in advance.

Royal Mile Whiskies

(379 High Street, EH1 1PW )

Picture: Kim Traynor

The hugely popular Royal Mile Whiskies is one of the best known in the capital and has been trading for over a quarter of a century.

Highly rated, it has been named retailer of the year by Whisky Magazine on eight different occasions.

With great prices, plenty of limited edition releases and hugely knowledgeable and passionate staff, led by the now legendary Mark Davidson, its one of the best places to go to buy yourself a bottle or two.

And should you want to try before you buy, then don't worry, Mark and his team hold regular tastings.


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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