Editor at Large: 63

Posted by in April's Magazine

Rare Whisky Lounge Opens

Silvio used to terrify me, he is my polar opposite in the style stakes, always immaculately turned out, the absolute acme of good breeding and taste, with the manners of Jeeves crossed with Hercule Poirot. When Leith first embraced me, he ran a fabulous restaurant in what is now Martin Wishart’s (minus the extension). For some years now he has been patron of the Vintners Rooms, an Edinburgh restaurant inexplicably overlooked by those old duffers at Michelin. Here I have eaten food sans pareil and drunk wine, a 1950 Barolo and a white – as complex as Fermat’s last theorem, made to ancient Roman specifications, in clay amphorae by the wildly idiosyncratic Josko Gravner – magicked from Silvio’s collection.


Today whisky takes centre stage, a charming Italian fellow called Giuseppe Begnoni, a leading collector of rare whiskies, has lately bought the Vintners Rooms and we are here to celebrate the opening of the Whisky Lounge. There will be 1,100 for you delectation, including a Highland Park from 1902, a 55 year-old Macallan and the last bottling (1964) from J J Thomson – a company that traded from this very site. Lunch was exceptional but as a guest it would be vulgar to review rather I shall list, parsnip shots with wild garlic clorophyl, consommé with ham and bone marrow croquette, foie gras with crispy duck tongue, rack of lamb and confit with egg plant two ways and chocolate mousse with vanilla bean foam. Then to the piece de resistance a 1920 vatted malt from another long gone Leith stalwart, MacDonald and Greenlees (a bottle of this was for sale on the web at over £500!). I shall quote the tasting notes of my increasingly garrulous tablemates. “Gentle uncaramelised toffee notes.” “Lighter and more refreshing with water.” “Remarkably fresh for its age.” Simply, it is the best whisky I have ever tasted. A tasting museum of whisky on our doorstep – lucky, lucky us.

The Vintners Rooms – The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, Leith, EH6 6BZ

One response to “Editor at Large: 63”

  1. […] Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are Just Kids, Paolozzi is a Leither, Vince Cable talks sense, a rare whisky bar opens and Kick-Ass kicks ass. Add realistic portrayals of Scotland and Esther Rantzen (sort of) + […]

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