‘A wee dram!’ is what you need to ask if you want to experience one of Scotland’s most seductive tastes, that of a good single malt whisky. If you want to impress with your Gaelic, just ask for a ‘uisge beatha’ (pronounced ishque bah), literally aqua vitae, or water of life. But this is not a language lesson, far from it; it is about bars and drinking. Although with these tips you can pretty much be understood in any of the many pubs and bars Glasgow has to offer, these are the five best places in which you can use your new words:
Number 5: The Scotia, in Stockwell Street, is a cozy pub with dark wood, low ceilings, friendly regulars and very good live music, usually involving competent cover versions of songs everyone can join in. Do try the malt of month to expand your palate.
Number 4: Dram. This was formerly the Uisge Beatha, but it has had a lick of paint, new windows put it and a little modern twist. It is located in a primarily student area (Woodlands Road, near Great Western Road) so the clientele is young, hip and very trendy. Watch out for activities in the pub as they often have quiz, folk and comedy nights.
Number 3: The wee pub at The Ubiquitous Chip in Ashton Lane boasts having 150 single malts available. Why not try them all, one by one? The place certainly deserves repeated visits: it has a great atmosphere – we often recommend it here at VG, as it is one of our favourites – is classy, friendly and has a great selection of other drinks besides whisky.
Number 2: The Ben Nevis, is in the West End, very near Kelvingrove Park. Perfect after a spot of walking, a game of boules or some skateboarding. It is famous for its folk sessions and its whisky, of which it has over 180 varieties, no less. Its decor is traditional and its atmosphere is very Scottish, which means so friendly you will probably end up chatting to strangers about something or other. It serves quite lovely food too, which will help if you are to sample many of its malts.
Number 1: The Pot Still is the most fantastic place to be if you are in Glasgow and like whisky. It advertises itself as a ‘world famous whisky bar’ and it does not disappoint. It is located in the city centre, so very handy after all those museums, cinemas and shops. Their staff are connoisseurs and it is great to be advised by them on new malts to try. The bar has little taps of water incorporated into them so customers can add a dash to their drink to allow better taste to develop and avoid the strong burning of the palate that happens when you take it straight – as I do.
Other ideas around whisky
Once you have experimented with whisky and found your favourite type – ours are Islay whiskies: peaty, full, hot – you can head to the The Whisky Shop in Buchanan Galleries to buy a bottle to take back. You can also learn about how single malt whisky is made by visiting one of the distilleries close to Glasgow. The Auchentoshan Distillery, in Dalmuir, (Clydebank G81 4SJ) is only a short train ride away from Central low level or Queen Street stations. Glengoyne distillery, in Dumgoyne, near Killearn, (Glasgow G63 9LB) is located in a gorgeous setting and is perfect for a daytrip away from the buzzing city. Make sure you sample their products.