Edinburgh happens to be one of my favorite cities in Europe. My first time visiting the city was several years ago for Hogmanay where I experienced the most memorable New Year’s party of my entire life. Having the opportunity to revisit again, during a different time of year (early autumn), was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Edinburgh is world renowned for its medieval Old Town, neoclassical buildings and iconic castle; however, did you know that the city has an underrated (or more like a burgeoning) food and drink scene? Welcoming cafes, trendy restaurants, traditional pubs and fascinating whisky & gin distilleries await those who wander around the city. With a few days to spare in the city I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of several food and drink tours that should not be missed by first time visitors to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Eat Walk Edinburgh
Let’s start with food! With Eat Walk Edinburgh I joined the Canongate three hour guided tour covering on foot a decent section of the lower part of the Royal Mile. We popped in and out of cafes, restaurants and shops sampling numerous tasty treats and dishes while spending the rest of our time meandering through closes (Scots for alleyways). Highlights of the tour included sampling mini haggis sliders, smoked sheep cheese, Scottish Highland cream fudge and pickled herring paired with beetroot salad. I loved the blend of tasting classic Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist, along with some of the fusion cuisine that is emerging in the city. In terms of drinks, having an opportunity to down some Campbelltown Loch Scotch blended whisky and sip on some local stout beer were highlights. As great as it was learning about the food, drinks and history of the city, my favorite part was having an opportunity to interact with the owners of the various establishments we visited. Talking one on one with folks so passionate about what they do really enhances your appreciation of what it is that you’re eating and drinking.
In this video you’ll see our entire experience with Eat Walk Edinburgh
If you have trouble viewing this video click here: http://youtu.be/-PYdlQraVcQ
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
I’m going to start off by being really honest. Not all vineyard and distillery tours are that interesting. In the past I’ve suffered through some tours where my guide has droned on with facts and figures, production techniques and quotas without any immersive activities or back and forth conversation. Fortunately, our tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery was nothing like that! Our guide Abby entertained us with fascinating tales related to the Edinburgh gin craze before having us sniff and identify some of the botanicals used to make gin. We then moved on to the gin den to crack open some bottles. This cozy little cave offered an ideal social setting for us to consume various types of gin. I found myself surprisingly enjoying some of the stronger variations on offer. We ended getting so cozy inside of the gin den that I could have spent the rest of the afternoon inside of its confines.
Join us by watching this video to see what it is like to take Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour
If you have trouble viewing this video click here: http://youtu.be/iUc67kLa4Bw
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Whisky, anyone? Before we move forward let’s get something straight; it is ‘whisky’ without the ‘e’ here in Scotland. Visiting The Scotch Whisky Experience was easily one of the highlights of my entire time in Edinburgh. One of the best and most humbling parts of the tour was the sensory perception test. Ten tiny glass jars with scented cotton were passed around the room and our job was to try and identify the smell and write it down. Well, let’s just say I’m not going to quit my day job of travel blogging and making videos anytime soon. Scoring a pathetic 2 out of 10, it was time to redeem myself in the blender’s room. With single grain, Highland, Lowland, Islay and Speyside it was time to get creative and make our very own blend. I ended up calling mine ‘Sam I Am Shazzam’ with the idea that it was strong and sophisticated much like its creator Yeah, a bit of stretch there for sure. At the end we had our expert guide do a blind taste test. Guess who won? Not me, but Audrey! At least, now we know we have career options as blenders in the future. To top things off we then visited the impressive collection of whisky on the wall; 3,384 bottles from around the world were on display with the oldest bottle dating back to 1897.
Here is our video of us enjoying the Scotch Whisky Experience
If you have trouble viewing this video click here: http://youtu.be/IKy_mlxQVIc
I hope you didn’t read this article on an empty stomach! Which of the three tours tickles your fancy the most? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below.