It’s arguable that whisky is best enjoyed by the fireside of a Scottish castle, on a chilly winter’s night. Which sure is nice if you can get it, but we’ve got a better (and infinitely more feasible) idea. Why not head to a whisky-loving venue with your whisky-loving pals for some whisky-fuelled good times? Whisky loves company and there’s no finer place to enjoy it than at one of the best whisky bars in London.
1. Black Rock, Old Street
This beautiful Shoreditch bar has a very unique selling point, and it comes in the form of a massive 185-year-old oak tree filled with rivers of whisky. We’re not kidding. At Black Rock they’ve taken a trunk, laid it on its side and chopped it in half, chiselled two channels down its length and filled them both with 17 litres of whisky cocktails. The tree is then covered with glass and used as a table.
The drinks age as they sit in the trunk, and are delivered straight to your glass through taps at the end. They also have over 300 whiskies to choose from. Add to that a blending room and an informal beer bar loosely based on a traditional Japanese Izakaya pub, and you’ve got a truly special venue – easily one of London’s most exciting whisky bars.
📍 You’ll find Black Rock at 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS.
🚇 Nearest station is Old Street.
2. Bull In A China Shop, Shoreditch
Bull in a China Shop has over 100 Japanese and Scotch whiskies behind the bar, claiming to have something for everyone – even the most insistent whisky sceptics. They also have a magnificent list of signature cocktails, such as the Chamomile and Charcoal Old-Fashioned.
The popcorn chicken is also pretty darn good washed down with a glass or two of traditional Japanese whisky, and the bartenders are dab hands at knowing which whisky you’d be suited to.
📍 You’ll find Bull In A China Shop at 196 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6LG.
🚇 Nearest station is Shoreditch High Street.
3. Annabel’s, Mayfair
Annabel’s is a member’s club, so you’ll need to have friends in high places to get in (or stump up the money to join the club). Once inside, you’ll find a sumptuously decorated space, some pretty fab toilets and a whisky list that’s the envy of many other bars.
Our advice is to check out their selection of Talisker single malts, which include a rare 35-year old that’s pretty much guaranteed to be darn special.
📍 You’ll find Annabel’s at 46 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 5AT.
🚇 Nearest station is Green Park.
4. Scarfe’s Bar, Holborn
A range of inventive and highly playful cocktails is the top draw at Scarfe’s Bar, where witty irreverence is the order of the day. Artfully social and a mere stone’s throw from Covent Garden, the cosy library bar is named after famous British caricaturist and artist Gerald Scarfe.
The drinks here are pretty damn exquisite, and a rotating menu keeps the selection fresh – but just try to pick from their vast whisky selection while you’re there. It’s absolutely gargantuan.
📍 You’ll find Scarfe’s Bar at the Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EN.
🚇 Nearest station is Holborn.
5. Swift, multiple venues
This award-winning, Scandi-themed cocktail bar has won numerous awards since it first swung open its doors in 2016, and has featured in the prestigious ‘Best Bars in the World’ list countless times. They’ve since swiftly expanded to three locations across Shoreditch, Soho, and Borough, bringing their gastronomical sips to even more Londoners.
Currently, Swift’s menu takes inspiration from the travel memories of their staff, with accompanying postcards recalling fond memories and trips. And then there’s the whisky. You’ll need some time to flick through their behemoth of a whisky menu, which includes whisky from such unexpected locales as Thailand, Sweden, and beyond. A friendly and joyous atmosphere makes for a spirited night.
6. The Connaught Bar, Grosvenor Square
London’s Connaught Bar has been crowned the best cocktail bar in the world multiple times. Once alone is impressive, but to win it multiple times speaks to the quality of the bar. Under the leadership of Director of Mixology Agostino Perrone, Head Mixologist Giorgio Bargiani, and Bar Manager Maura Milia, this swish spot was feted for their innovative, seemingly effortless cocktails and a consistent brilliance that had seen it kicking around the upper echelons of the list for years now.
So what better spot in town to enjoy a glass of whisky or two? They’ve got a whole host of lovely whisky-based cocktails and a range of single malts – including Islay and Highlands – as well as Japanese and American varieties.
📍 You’ll find the Connaught Bar at Carlos Place, London, W1K 2A.
🚇 Nearest station is Green Park.
7. The Vault at Milroy’s, Soho
If you’re looking for whisky bars in Soho, then this one really is the place to be. A speakeasy-style spot, it’s hidden behind a bookcase in the oldest whisky shop in the city, Milroy’s of Soho. With stripped-back decor and dark wood panelling, it’s a broody spot with lovely, attentive staff and a fantastic selection of cocktails.
Whisky is the focus at The Vault of Soho, just like the shop upstairs, and the menu changes seasonally. The Coconut Butter Old Fashioned is a must-order, with a delicious mix of bourbon, coconut, and bitters. What more could you ask for?
📍 You’ll find The Vault of Soho at 3 Greek Street, London, W1D 4NX.
🚇 Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
8. The Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green
The Sun Tavern is a raucous London bar centred around delicious craft beer, live music, classically-inspired cocktails, and great craic. They also claim to have London’s largest selection of Irish whiskey and ‘the world’s largest collection of Poitín’. For those not in the know, that’s ‘Irish moonshine’ – better order a pint of water while you’re at it!
They’ve got over 200 different whiskies on offer here, and the list is always ever-growing. It’s definitely worth a visit to this pub if you’re in the Bethnal Green area.
📍 You’ll find The Sun Tavern at 441 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AN.
🚇 Nearest station is Bethnal Green.
9. Boisdale, Canary Wharf
Overlooking the picturesque Cabot Square in Canary Wharf, Boisdale brings a wee bit of Scotland all the way down to London. Supposedly they’re “home to the UK’s largest whisky bar” – so if you haven’t been yet you’re surely missing out!
The whisky here is – as you would expect – pretty fantastic and comes from all over Scotland. And don’t worry if the night does get a bit chilly if you’re sitting outside – there are plenty of tartan blankets on hand to keep you warm. More whisky bars should come with blankets!
📍 You’ll find Boisdale at Cabot Square, London, E14 4QT.
🚇 Nearest station is Canary Wharf.
10. East London Liquor Company, Bow
An essential addition to this list of the best whisky bars in London is the East London Liquor Company, a charming canalside spot which was once an old glue factory. It’s now a distillery that’s started pumping out some of London’s most interesting spirits – including collaborations with craft brewery 40FT and even the Kew Gardens!
Open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, it can get fairly lively and it’s a great place to try some wee drams of whisky from all over the world. We’ll raise a glass to that!
📍 You’ll find the East London Liquor Company at Bow Wharf, Unit GF1, 221 Grove Road, London E3 5SN.
🚇 Nearest station is Mile End.
11. TT Liquor, Shoreditch
Walk into TT Liquor and you’re greeted by an impressively well-stocked liquor shop with delights from all around the world. But it’s the sit-down drinks we’re after – and TT Liquor more than has us sorted across their cellar bar (converted from the former cells of a Victorian police station) and their gorgeous roof terrace. They have a sprawling menu of drinks to choose from, so settle in for a spirited night.
📍 You’ll find TT Liquor at 17B Kingsland Road, E2 8AA.
🚇 Nearest station is Hoxton.