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Should You Try The Scotch Whisky Experience’s Tasting Tales?

The Scotch Whisky Tasting Experience in Edinburgh. Four whiskies in proper whisky glasses. A piece of dark chocolate, trout, venison salami, and applewood smoked mature cheddar cheese on a black slate board.

Four drams of Scotch Whisky, a thoughtfully paired snack* to match each dram, and well-told whisky stories are on the menu when you book Tasting Tales at The Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. You’ll be given a quick primer on how to taste whisky during the hour-long class. Then, it’s storytime and time to sip and savor. 

The Scotch Whisky Experience Tasting Tales

We sat at round tables covered in white linen. Each place setting included four drams of whisky and four snacks on a slate serving plate. For whiskies, we had a Cutty Sark blended whisky, a Port Charlotte 10-year peated whisky, and two 12-year single malts: a Bunnahabhain 12 and an Old Pulteney. Our snacks included fairtrade and sustainable dark chocolate by Quirky Chocolate,  Kames ethically sourced steelhead trout, venison salami from family-run Great Glen Charcuterie, and award-winning Isle of Kintyre Applesmoke Mature Cheddar.  

After we tasted our first whisky of the session, Bunnahabhain 12 Year, the whisky expert gave us a rating system to use. A thumbs-up meant we would buy the whisky at the bar. If we pointed our thumb to the side, we would drink it if someone else bought it for us. A thumbs-down meant we wouldn’t even drink it if it were given to us. 

Experiencing Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The Bunnahabhain 12 Year paired with dark chocolate. Our whisky expert told us the chocolate must be at least 70% cacao to pair well. Both Chris and I gave Bunnahabhain 12 a thumbs up. It is distilled on the Isle of Islay, a northern coast island known for an excessive amount of shipwrecks. 

Old Pulteney 12 Year is distilled in Wick, a town of silver and gold. The silver is its fish, and the gold is its whisky. Appropriately in taste and the story told, Old Pulteney was paired with the steelhead trout. Chris and I gave this one a thumbs to the side. I wouldn’t turn up my nose at it. All of the whiskies we tried are quality. Old Pulteney is lighter in taste with a quick finish and has notes of citrus and honey. I think we learned that we like a stronger and richer taste when it comes to our whisky.

Experiencing Blended Scotch Whisky

Cutty Sark is a blended whisky, so it doesn’t have an age like the others. It is a strong, flavorful whisky and pairs perfectly with the venison salami. We gave this one a thumbs-up. 

The whisky gets its name from one of the world’s fastest tea clippers, which gets its name from a short nightie worn by a character in the poem Tam O’Shanger by Robert Burns. Restored by King Charles, you can tour Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving extreme clipper ship in London 

One of my favorite stories of the hour paired with the Cutty Sark. During America’s prohibition, Rum Runner Captain Bill McCoy bought Cutty Sark (the whisky, not the ship). Instead of diluting it like other sellers did at the time, he sold the whisky as it was. His honest dealings are where the term The Real McCoy comes from. 

Experiencing Peated Whisky

Peated whisky is smoky. My taste buds (and the taste buds of others in the group) found the smokiness similar to mezcal. Port Charlotte 10 Year by Bruichladdich Distillery Company is strong. Its pairing with the Applesmoke Mature Cheddar felt essential. The flavors played off each other so well. Without the pairing, I don’t know that Chris and I would’ve both given it a thumbs-up. We loved the combination. 

Another of my favorite stories pairs with the Port Charlotte 10 Year. The Bruichladdich Distillery Company was being spied on by the United States government back in 2003, not long after the start of the Iraq War. The distillery has webcams installed so that people can watch Bruichladdich’s traditional distillation process. They received an email from a US spy with the Defence Threat Reduction Agency telling them that one of their webcams is faulty. Apparently the process for making whisky is close to the one for making Weapons of Mass Destruction. The incident provided Bruichladdich the inspiration to make a Whisky of Mass Destruction. 

The Scotch Whisky Experience's exterior on Edinburgh, Scotland's Royal Mile.

Should You Try The Scotch Whisky Experience’s Tasting Tales?

If you enjoy storytelling and whisky, this experience is for you. Tasting Tales is an hour-long experience. As I write this, it costs £48 (about $60).

If storytelling isn’t your thing, but whisky is, you might want to check out one of their other experiences. There is a 3-hour Taste of Scotland Tour (£96), which includes their Platinum Tour and a meal at their award-winning Amber Restaurant. Or, you can choose between a Silver, Gold, or Platinum Tour. I booked the Tasting Tales experience for Chris and me because I love hearing the stories behind what we eat and drink. We hope to return to Edinburgh someday, and if we do, we’ll gladly try out one of the other tours or experiences The Scotch Whisky Experience offers. 

*Snacks are gluten-free. 

Looking for more places to eat and drink in Edinburgh? Check out our post, Edinburgh, Scotland: 8 Great Places for Food + Drink

Not sure where to stay? See what we thought of our choice to stay at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

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