3 Things That Make A Whiskey Bar

After visiting a few self proclaimed Whiskey Bars in my time – especially on the Galway Whiskey Trail – I did ponder what exactly makes a Whiskey Bar – as opposed to simply a bar that sells whiskey?

I’ve distilled my thoughts down to 3 easy to digest items.

Bars that don’t attain these items are not in my book Whiskey Bars – but they can still be thoroughly enjoyable places to visit and even have interesting whiskeys to drink!

So what elevates a bar into a Whiskey Bar?

1 Numbers

Simply put – there has to be at least 50 expressions on offer.

Irish Whiskey releases available right now easily reach above 100. Add in a few discontinued or rare bottles and 150+ is possible.

Throw some Scotch and Bourbon into the mix and you’re into the 200+ territory. And I’ve not even started on India – Australia – New Zealand – Germany -France……

So yes – 50 is the bare minimum.

2 A Whiskey Menu

Bars can be crowded places. It may be difficult just getting served – let alone scanning the shelves for that prized Single Malt you’ve never tried before. A Whiskey Menu means you can browse the pages salivating at the tasty drams on offer knowing a glass of liquid gold will soon be yours.

Middleton has stolen a lead here.

It offers pubs a whiskey menu only featuring their releases.

Whilst this can often be a step up – I was very pleased when my local Radisson Hotel and Ritz Gastropub in Athlone first introduced this menu as the whiskeys on offer shot up to about 20 varieties – but really!

Whiskey menu 2
Midleton menu c/othewhiskeynut

A decent Whiskey Bar will print up their own menu including a wide variety of brands – styles and countries together with tasting notes and possibly a brief history of Irish Whiskey for the icing on the cake.

3 Tasting Trays

A Whiskey Bar should offer a tasting tray of 3 or 4 small servings of whiskey for the customer to sample.

These can be a Single Grain – Single Malt and a blend for example.

Or a peated malt – a sherry finish and a rum finish.

The permutations are endless.

They can be from the same distillery – different distilleries or even different countries.

Whatever combination – the idea is to introduce the customer to the styles – tastes and variety of whiskeys out there. After they have sampled the tray they might have a better idea of which expression suits their palate and order up a standard serving to enjoy.

Whiskey can be a minefield for the uninitiated.

Tasting trays help both new and old aficionados develop their own understanding of the myriad of flavours found in a glass of uisce beatha.

So that’s my basic 3.

Anything less than the above is just a bar selling whiskey.

However many Whiskey Bars offer more.

4 Whiskey Glasses

When I was in Belgium recently I loved the way each beer came in it’s own style of glass. It may not have added anything to the flavour – but it did add to the occasion.

I think drinking whiskey is an occasion that also requires decent glassware.

To swirl the liquid around and release the aroma a circular shaped glass is a must. It can be stemmed like a copita glass – or without like a Glencairn. There are loads of styles about.

Sadly – a square tumbler just won’t do.

5 Whiskey Tasting Evenings

Whiskey tasting evenings are great fun. You don’t even have to be a Whiskey Bar to hold them. I’ve had a few very successful tastings in my house. But having one in a Whiskey Bar is even better.

And the ultimate crowning glory?

6 Own Brand Whiskey

Jack Ryan’s – The Palace Bar and An Pucan are a few bars that have raised the level of what it is to be a Whiskey Bar to the maximum.

DSCF5784 email
Jack Ryan Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

They all have a whiskey expression exclusively made for them.

Where do you go from there?

I know where I’d go.

To the bar and order up a glass!

Slainte.

Good Logo

PS.

If you have a favourite whiskey bar that complies with the above criteria – tell me about it.

The more I have to visit the better!

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7 thoughts on “3 Things That Make A Whiskey Bar”

  1. Truth be told – I’m specifically referring to Irish Whiskey Bars.
    I would expect a higher number of expressions in a Scottish Whisky Bar as there are far more releases of Scotch available.
    From what I can gather there is a fair amount of Indian Whisky too so if I ever walked into an Indian Whisky Bar I’d not be looking for Irish or Scotch – but genuine Indian Whisky!

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  2. A fine set of criteria! Something I would add is the option of having tasting drams as well as full pours, especially for the higher-end spirits.

    Like

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