Whisky is one of those complicated adult tastes like black coffee or anchovies. Taken properly neat, it’s a strong spirit and many people don’t get past the slap and burn of their first encounter. But give it time. Scotches are like people – you have to let their characters become clear. Some seduce you on the nose but disappoint on the finish. Others put you off at first but develop into something profound… yeah, it seems impossible to write about whisky without spouting the kind of malarkey found on the back of Scotch bottles. Looking for a dram that’s “young and virile and full of pride and passion”? Or maybe something “polite, almost apologetic at first”? (These descriptions are from the distilleries own websites, so they have only themselves to blame.) Here’s our guide to the best whisky spots in Manchester.
Here are our picks
50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE, M1 5LE - Visit now
One of the city’s most glorious old pubs, The Briton’s Protection (built in 1806), has the biggest whisky collection in town – some 340 bottles, mainly single malt Scotch but with plenty of bourbons, Irish whiskeys and blends for variety. They’re evangelical about the stuff and will happily split shots to let you sample more. Though maybe not with their prized bottle of Edrington Blend, an extremely rare 33 year-old Scotch that sells for £30 a measure.
14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF, M1 2FF - Visit now
The Whiskey Jar on Tariff Street in the Northern Quarter is definitely worth a visit. After getting some stick for opening with a somewhat limited selection of actual whisky, it has expanded its bar and now boasts a very respectable range of bottles, including whiskeys from Japan and the Commonwealth, as well as a nice line in whiskey and bourbon-based cocktails.
49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1NA, M4 1NA - Visit now
One of the best places in town to sample the pride of Kentucky is Northern Quarter bourbon (and rum) specialist bar Cane and Grain. The focus here is more on bourbon-based cocktails, and they do mix a fine Manhattan, but purists can choose from top shelf bourbons including Jim Beam Signature Craft, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and Old Forrester.
Royal Exchange Arcade, 12 Exchange St, Manchester, Manchester, M2 7EA, M2 7EA - Visit now
In Royal Exchange Arcade, Aston’s of Manchester is a tobacconist that recently branched out into whisky sales. In their shop you’ll find an interesting selection of bottles to buy, including some real rarities, and tasting events here are just getting going. You can also buy walking sticks, hip flasks and wet shaving gear. Just be careful: spend too much time in here and you might accidentally turn into your granddad.