Birthday Girls Edinburgh and Leith Excursion
Day One, Part One
Jacqueline and I had a couple of days (27th and 28th December 2022) in Edinburgh to celebrate Jacqueline’s birthday. We had arranged a few events, drinks, lunches and a special dinner.
We stayed at the Malmaison Hotel in Leith, this is a hotel that we have previously stayed at with close proximity to many good restaurants and bars not to mention The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Fishers where we had booked a seafood dinner for the 28th.
On the 27th after booking into the hotel we jumped on a bus to Princes Street, which is a shadow of the Princes Street we remembered so we moved to Rose Street and ambled along the cobbled road. Prior to our 1 O’clock tour, we found to our delight, a very fine hotel/bar across from Johnnie Walker, the Angels Share where we enjoyed a cocktail or two.
As 1 o’clock arrived and we crossed over to the lavish setting that is Johnnie Walker Princes Street.
When we booked our tour online. (Johnnie Walker – Journey of Flavour Tour) we had a few questions to answer which then gave us our flavour profile, Jacqueline’s flavour profile was Tropical whilst mine was Peaty. On arrival, we were issued with a coloured wristband denoting what our flavour profile was and would be used in the drinks/cocktails we were about to enjoy. The tour now gets underway.
This tour is 90 minutes long and you get three drinks/cocktails. We had a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. Our first call was to a room with a bar and we were asked to pick up a Highball glass that ‘s base matched our wristband. We placed our glass under a dispensing spout and out came a highball cocktail, Jacqueline Highball was made with Johnnie Walker Gold Label and she was asked to add some candied pineapple. My Highball was made with Johnnie Walker Double Black and I added some sun dried tomato. One of my favourite Highballs and Jacqueline not being a Whisky drinker was surprised how much she enjoyed her highball.
We moved on to the next room taking our drinks with us. In this room, we were given the full history of Johnnie Walker from his grocers shop in Kilmarnock to being the best-selling Scotch in the world. This interactive historic presentation was maybe my highlight of the tour as it was educational and entertaining. Wonderfully presented with professionalism and humour.
It was interesting to be shown the evolution of the “striding man” over the decades.
Next room was another interactive presentation on how Whisky is made and this was given by some of Johnnie Walker blenders. It was unusual to go through the whole Whisky making process and not have a tour guide in a distillery deliver it.
The final room was where we got our last two drinks/cocktails, we all had a choice of Highballs, Old Fashioned or a dram of one of Johnnie Walker expressions. Jacqueline had a Spicy Old Fashioned with Crystalized Ginger followed by her favourite of the day a Creamy Highball Johnnie & Cream Soda with Cold Brew Coffee 7 A Sprig of Barley
My first was a Smoked Old Fashioned with Star Anise, I finished with a dram of Johnnie Walker Double Black.
This very interactive tour was outstanding with all the light effects and tour guides that were so full of knowledge, enthusiasm and humour. All this for £28.00 a real bargain.
Even if you are not a Whisky lover this tour must be on your wishlist if you visit Edinburgh.
Day One, Part Two
After the highlight was the Johnnie Walker tour we had to maintain a high standard and took a slow walk along Princes Street to the Balmoral Hotel. This visit was for Jacqueline to have her first glass of Champagne of her birthday two day excursion to Edinburgh. I enjoyed a half pint of Guinness and an Old Fashioned made with Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Next stop was The Scotch Malt Whisky Society The Vaults for an early dinner and a couple of drams and a beer. We had a lovely catch up with Dean from the Vaults. On this occasion Jacqueline enjoyed a gin and tonic made with a Society gin. As is always the case we could not resist having a bite to eat as the food is fantastic at this venue. Jacqueline had the most enormous bowl of seafood chowder and I could not go past the hot smoked salmon and chips. Again a wonderful visit with fabulous surroundings and great staff.
We finished the day with a couple of drinks in the Malmaison.
Day two, Jacqueline’s Birthday. We started with a hearty breakfast and then got the 16 bus up to Princes Street Gardens and had a walk around the Christmas Fair. We then jumped into a taxi and went down to Holyrood Distillery for a wee tour and a tasting. It was good to meet up with Lucy Geraghty who Jacqueline and I have known for a number of years,
We once again headed to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society as we find it hard to resist some drinks and to say hello to Gregor Forbes the Vaults venue manager. We had quite a long chat about days gone by as we had booked dinner at Fishers. Our drinks were enhanced with a bowl of the nicest olives we have ever eaten which did not damage our appetite.
Our final food delight was in Fishers Restaurant. A small but delightful fish and seafood establishment. Firstly we ordered a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc while we looked through the menu. We shared a plate of calamari. Jacqueline’s main dish was mussels and clams tagliatelle. I had Aberdeen smoked haddock topped with Stornoway black pudding, wilted spinach, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. A fantastic end to a great couple of days.
Our highlights were (in no particular order) Fishers Restaurant, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Johnnie Walker, Princes Street and The Balmoral.