Distillery Focus

HighSociety

TheScotchMaltWhiskySocietyisundernewownershipandenjoyingnewpremises.OurMysteryVisitorwentandcheckedoutoneofourmoreinterestingmembers'clubs
By Mystery Visitor
Ifyouhaven’tjoinedyet,youarerunningoutofexcuses.Irefer,ofcourse,totheScotchMaltWhiskySociety,agroupofenthusiastsdedicatedtothepursuitoftheirownsinglecaskbottlingsofveryspecialmalts,andtheirratherhandsomenewpremisesat28QueenStreet,Edinburgh.TheSociety’soriginalheadquartersremaininLeith,onEdinburgh’snorthernfringes,wherethereisalwaysreasonnottogo.Bynightthehauntofsomeveryunderdressedyoungwomenwhoseemremarkablyenthusiastictomakenewmalefriends,itsstreetsarecrowdedbydaywithpropertydevelopersandwannabepublicrelationsexecutives.Bestavoidedthenbygentlefolkofgreattasteanddiscernment,TheSociety’snaturalaudience.But,withthisnewventure,theSocietyhasmovedupmarket.QueenStreetisrightintheheartofEdinburgh’sfamedNewTown,sonamedforbeingbuiltinthe18thcentury.It’sagraciousGeorgianterrace,overlookinghandsomeprivategardenswithaviewtotheFirthofForthandKingdomofFifebeyond.IfyousquintalittleyoucanlookdownonLeith(thisisEdinburgh,afterall).Sadly,number28hadfallenonhardtimes.LikemanyofthefinebuildingsintheNewTownithadbeenadaptedforofficeusesometimeafterthewar,aconversionneithersympatheticnorappropriate.Recently,however,withthedemandforlargeopenfloorsandmilesofcomputercabling,officeusershaveabandonedthesecitycentreconversionsforpurpose-builtofficeparksandEdinburgh’stownhousesareslowlyreturningtotheiroriginalfunction.Or,asinthiscase,moreimaginativenewlives.TheSocietyhasacknowledgedthebuilding’sGeorgianelegance:restoring,renovatingandreplacinginanentirelyauthenticstyle,whilstaddingnewfeaturesinamannerbothharmoniousandrespectful.Asmartnewpaintschemehighlightstheinterior’sdelightfularchitecturalfeatures.Thenewfacilitiescomprisearestaurant,members’bar(withsmokingroom,completewithaDamienHirststylearrangementofwhiskysamplebottles),privatemeetingroomsforseminars(availableforhire)andasuiteoflettingbedrooms,eachwiththeirownkitchenandloungingarea.ThesemakeagreatcentralbaseforabusinesstriporlongweekendinEdinburgh.Behindthescenesthereisawell-fittedkitchen,someofficesandstores.Memberscanusethebarandmakeofflicencepurchasesofbottles.It’saveryhandybolt-holeinEdinburgh’sbusycentre,increasinglyresemblingpartsofLondoninitsbustleandglitz(asIsatinthewindowofthebarIwatchedanopen-toppedMaseratiandtwoFerrarissweepgrandlybyandlostcountofthePorschesandotherexoticmotors).Intheinterestsofathoroughreport,Ihaveeatentwiceforyouat28QueenStreet.Acasualbarlunchofsteaksandwichwaspresentedwithstyle,thecarefullyartdirectedstackofchunkychipslookingalmosttoogoodtoeat–thoughIdidandcanreportthemexcellent.Therestaurant,whichisopentothepublicifspacepermits,hasaharderjob.ThereisnoshortageofgoodeatingplacesinEdinburghandthecapital’scannyconsumerslookkeenlyforqualityandvalue.IwasalarmedbytheLilliputianproportionsofmyscallopstarter,thoughitcouldnotbefaultedforeitherqualityorpresentation.However,thingsrecoveredwiththemaincourseandIwasfeelingmuchhappierafterIhadpolishedoffasmallbutperfectlyformedlittlepudding.Servicewasdiscreetandprofessionalandthewinelist,thoughnotlong,offersbothchoiceandvalue.Thewordisn’toutyetthough,asthediningroomwasonlysparselyoccupiedforourvisit.ThisisaboldventurefortheSociety,andtheymaybegratefulforGlenmorangie’sdeeppocketswhentheynextbumpintothebankmanager.So,myrecommendationissimple:gosoonandgooften.LiketheSociety’ssinglecasks,Number28,QueenStreetisanelegantindulgenceforthemoresophisticateddrinker.LikereadersofWhiskyMagazine,forexample.Contact
ScotchMaltWhiskySociety,
28QueenStreet,
Edinburgh.
Bar,off-licencesalesandrooms:MembersOnly.
Restaurantopentothepublic,pre-bookedonly:
Tel:+44(0)1312202044
http://www.smws.com