Monday, 3 October 2011

It Doesn’t Take A Whisky Festival To Enjoy Whisky In London, But It Helps

By Alwynne Gwilt.

As a ‘young’ whisky lover (and a female to boot - shock, horror!) I am always ecstatic when I come across a young crowd at a whisky event.

This was just the case when I headed to a grand new festival in north London recently, called the Pure Festival, which focused on whisky and music.

The event was absolutely packed when I arrived with young, grizzly-bearded (the men, only), skinny-jean-wearing 20- and 30-somethings all keen to try out some wicked whiskies from the 10 distillers at the event (highlights of which you can see in these photographs).
Although the event was a one-off, there are many places in London where other young(ish) whisky lovers can convene to try out the best blends and single malts around, without needing to reach for a pipe and a cardigan.

One of my favourites is the Albannach bar in Trafalgar Square. I first discovered this place about two years ago and was shocked because: a) it was a genuinely lovely place in the normally super-touristy saturated part of London and 2) it was stocked plum-full of tasty delights, with a bar so rammed with various bottled whisky that I nearly jumped up and down in excitement when I saw it.

Also high up on the list, due to its large selection of Irish whiskies, is Waxy O’Connors bar just off of Leicester Square. I have fond memories of going to this place as a tourist, long before I actually emigrated to England from Canada, and falling in love with the giant tree in the middle of the pub. For years though, I couldn't find it again - it was simply "this great place I once went to when I visited London" - but a couple of years ago I finally remembered which bar it was and was delighted to re-discover its fine whisk(e)y offerings.

Finally, if you're looking for a place a bit off of the tourist path, check out the fantastic Blues Kitchen bar in Camden. Okay, it may not serve whisky per se, but rather whisky's American cousin, bourbon. The venue is right on Camden high street and the bar has to have the most extensive list of bourbons in London. The bartenders really know their stuff too. Plus, the last time I went they had some grand 1920s flapper-style entertainment, which was free to watch and enjoy as I sipped and supped on some super smooth bourbon.

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