Whisky Bars in Manchester

Kate Feld

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.

Our top picks

The Briton’s Protection

The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, 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.

Ben Williams

The Whiskey Jar

The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, 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.

The Whiskey Jar


Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 7HL - Visit now

Arty bolthole Sandbar has a surprisingly good selection of whiskies, with more than a hundred to choose from.

Image courtesy Sandbar.

Cane & Grain

Cane & Grain, 49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, 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.

Creative Tourist

Aston’s Of Manchester

Aston’s Of Manchester, Royal Exchange Arcade, 12 Exchange St, Manchester, Manchester, 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.

Where to go in Manchester

Bar or Pub
Finders Keepers

Welcoming waterside bar in New Islington Marina, serving a wide array of carefully-curated cocktails.

City Centre

Highly-regarded wine-led, French-leaning wine bar and rooftop restaurant in the city centre.

Manchester Wine Tours

Manchester Wine Tours is a relaxed, fun wine tour, full of the city’s best food and drink, led by an effortlessly engaging host.

Bar or Pub
Henry C

Henry C is an intimate neighbourhood bar in Chorlton, serving up superb quality drinks.

11 Central

11 Central is a new bar and microbrewery launched by local brewing legends SEVEN BRO7HERS BREWING CO at the Central Bay site in Salford.

Bar or Pub
Kennedy’s Irish Bar

A fan favourite in Altrincham, Kennedy’s Irish Bar offers live music, a vibrant atmosphere and undoubtable Irish charm and hospitality.

Axe & Cleaver

This is the perfect pub for an indulgent weekend, following up a long countryside walk with a hearty and high quality meal.

Bar or Pub
On Bar

This multifaceted venue is primarily an award winning gay bar in Manchester’s Canal Street area – but that is not all…

Bar or Pub

This award winning bar is open six nights a week due to popular demand. Described as the ‘mecca of the north’ for the lesbian community, it is no wonder why.

Bar or Pub
Cruz 101

Everything you want in a Canal Street club can be found here. Cruz 101 – better known as Cruz – is an institution, and a must-visit in Manchester.

Old Pint Pot

This lively spot could be considered a jack of all trades – pub, restaurant, events space and live music venue.

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