With Burn's Night coming up we thought we'd take a look at some of the best places to buy whisky in Scotland

“Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!”

It will come as no surprise that Rabbie Burns loved whisky, he drank it for nearly all of his life and even championed Scotland’s national drink while in his role as an exciseman.

We are sure then, that he would take great comfort in the knowledge that many people in Scotland – and indeed all across the world – now cherish his favourite tipple almost as much as he did.

So, with Burn’s Night fast approaching, we’ve picked out 10 of the best places from around the country to buy your very own bottle of whisky to toast our national bard on the day we celebrate his life and his achievements.

Robert Graham – Glasgow & Edinburgh

(111 West George St , Glasgow, City of Glasgow, G2 1QX, Scotland and 194 Rose Street , Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 4AZ, Scotland)

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Originally founded in Glasgow in 1874, Robert Graham have over a hundred years of retail experience and have now opened shops in London, Cambridge and Edinburgh.

Their stores – and online shops – carry an extensive array of not only single malts, blends and single grains from Scotland but also whiskies from around the world too.

They also offer their very own award-winning independently bottled single cask series of rare and special whiskies, the Dancing Stag.

Specialising not only in the finest whiskies, RG also stock an impressive range of cigars, the perfect partner to accompany your dram.

Good Spirits Co. – Glasgow

(23 Bath St, Glasgow G2 1HW)

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One of the most refreshing whisky shops around at the moment, with one of the coolest and most laid back atmosphere’s you’ll find on this list.

A trip to the Good Spirits Co. is like visiting that one well travelled friend who knows all about great drink and has a great collection to back it up.

Good Spirits stock not only whiskies from Scotland and abroad but also some of the best gins, vodkas, tequilas and any other quality spirit you care to mention.

With a penchant for finding rare gems as well as showcasing great up-and-coming distilleries and the knowledge to help you pick the right whisky, you’ll quickly find yourself a loyal customer.

They also do regular tastings, have a nearby craft beer shop and are just about to launch trade nights and their very own wine fair. Watch this space.

Cadenhead’s – Edinburgh & Campbelltown

(9 Bolgam Street. Campbeltown. Argyll. Scotland. PA28 6HZ and172 Canongate , Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH8 8BN, Scotland)

Scotland’s oldest independent bottler has perhaps one of the best pedigrees of any of the shops on this list and it shows. Their staff at both their Edinburgh site and Campbelltown – where they began – are highly knowledgeable and well known for being characters within the whisky world.

Family owned, Cadenhead’s offer a community feel and while their range of whisky is mainly from their own independently bottled range (as well as some of the best Campbelltown whiskies), they have access to the best single cask stock in the country and regularly bottle some rare gems that you wouldn’t get access to anywhere else – or indeed for such a great price.

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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Edinburgh

(28 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX

Give someone the gift of an SMWS membership. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Give someone the gift of an SMWS membership. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Should you be looking for something a bit more than just a shop to buy your whisky then you perhaps joining a world renowned society dedicated entirely to whisky might be more your thing?

If so then you should check out the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, with the membership fee that starts at just £122 – which comes with no less than 3 rare single cask 10cl bottlings and a £10 whisky voucher – and access to some truly incredible single cask whiskies from around the world, two venues in Edinburgh and the combined knowledge of the Society itself mean you’ll be spoiled for choice.

The Society stocks unique cask strength whiskies from distilleries all across Scotland and beyond, with bottle names serving as playful tasting notes – think ‘New carpet in a sweetie shop’ and ‘an American breakfast’.

You can enjoy trips to their Queen Street* House – think elegant Victorian townhouse, with sweeping views and an open fire – or the Vaults in Leith – opulence in one of Scotland’s oldest commercial buildings.

*Their Queen Street venue is now open to the public.

The Vaults. Picture: SMWS

The Vaults. Picture: SMWS

Loch Fyne whiskies – Argyll

Inveraray, Argyll, PA32 8UD, Scotland

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They say Loch Fyne is a magical place and we won’t argue, as not only is it home to some of the best seafood in the world it is also home to this Aladdin’s cave of whisky.

The staff are always around to chat about our national drink, pour you a taster or impart some valuable whisky knowledge but be warned you may end up spending more than you want to.

Be sure to check out the collector’s loft, the perfect place to find what’s been missing from your collection.

TB Watson – Dumfries

11 English Street , Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, DG1 2BU, Scotland

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One of the best known spirits shops in Dumfries and – thanks to the efforts of the management team – now in Scotland.

With a massive range of great whiskies and spirits, the shop also offers tastings and their very own whisky club, which, with membership costing just £14, is an absolute bargain and will give you access to trips, tastings and early access to their Whisky Festival tickets!

Having opened nearly 100 years ago, the shop itself has gone from strength to strength but it’s the online store – Drambusters – and their whisky festival that has really seen them shine.

Gordon & Macphail – Elgin

58-60 South Street, Boroughbriggs Road , Elgin, Moray, IV30 1JY, Scotland

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Another of the big independent bottlers, Gordon & Macphail still maintain a local presence in Elgin even with their multi-national reach.

A malt lover’s paradise the shop also offers a deli (a great place to have a bite to eat), a wines and spirits department and a shop.

However, your intended target will be the Whisky Room, which stocks no less than a thousand whiskies, you’ll find yourself among whisky tourists from all over the world and they stock everything from entry level whiskies to the oldest and rarest whiskies available anywhere.

The Whisky Shop Dufftown – Moray

1 Fife Street, Dufftown, Moray AB55 4AL

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Based in the heart of Speyside, this small whisky shop is run by a dedicated team with a well stocked range of over 600 whiskies.

With no less than six operational distilleries and the annual Spirit of Speyside festival in close proximity, the shop is perfectly located and the ideal place to to end up after a day trip to the area.

The shop also offers regular tastings in the evenings, which – if you give them enough notice – can be tailored specifically to your requirements, should you wish to try before you buy.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

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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