The Whisky Shop, now a chain founded in 1992 when it opened its first shop in Edinburgh, has just opened in Paternoster Square in the City of London. In view of rents there, they must presumably be doing well. I am a whisky ignoramus but my friend Andrew Jefford, author of not only The New France but an award winning book on Islay and its malt, assures me that The Whisky Shop is a force to be reckoned with.
They claim to be the largest specialist retailer of whiskies in the UK with outlets in "nearly every large population centre in the country" and an active online shop at www.whiskyshop.com.
Here's what they say about themselves: "At The Whisky Shop, our passion is to convert the uninitiated and to further educate and encourage both the occasional drinker and existing enthusiast. Either way, we want you to enter or go further into the amazing world of whisky.
"Yes, it is complicated, but it's a voyage of fascinating discovery. You are warmly invited to step into our world by participating in one of our tutored tasting events. For many it will be a first and bold step and for others it will be a welcome return."
The Whisky Shop offers customers the chance to browse (and in some cases sample) over 400 different whiskies, including many independent bottlings exclusive to the store. By far the largest category is single malt Scotch but there are also whiskies from Ireland, Canada, America, Japan and India as well as cream liqueurs, Scotch liqueurs and a substantial miniatures collection.
The top selling whisky across all stores is the Glenkeir Treasures range. Exclusive to The Whisky Shop, these are apparently "whiskies chosen by a rigorous selection process as being individually exceptional. The core selection is put into oak barrels in each shop and hand bottled to order. They come in different ages and from different regions and can be tasted in store straight from the barrel. So, there is 'on tap' for every customer a virtual tour of Scotland.
The Whisky Shop
10 Paternoster Square
London EC4M 7DY
Tel 020 7329 5117
Head office in Edinburgh 0141 334 6666
See also www.whiskyshop.com for details of all other stores and online sales.