Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Good Edinburgh Whisky Pubs #4 - the return of the Holyrood Tavern
It's back. Ok, it's now called Holyrood 9a. I suspect the namechange is an attempt to stop the auld clientele of 'goths, punks, gays, students and bikers' returning from their new haunt at the Auld Hoose up the road.
Essentially though, it's the same place but spruced up a little. Same old seating plan, same old dark wood, same bar more or less... and all the auld memories come flooding back. Except the auld 'alternative' punters are eslewhere. And it's got a huge range of good beers, everything from Stella and some strong continental classics like Chimay and Duvel to one or two Scottish ales too. It also seems to have turned into a boutique-burger kind of place but with a reasonable selection of veggie meals too.
It's also got a fairly interesting and fairly priced selection of malts which are arranged on some high glass shelves. Asking for the Bunnahabhain 18yo started the ball rolling for an act of balancing by the barmaid on top of a shaky metal ladder. It looked strangely like Fringe pavement theatre. Despite being on the top step and on her tiptoes, the bottle was fished from the shelf with fingertips and passed on to the next link in the chain. This process was repeated as the also requested Bruichladdich 18yo bides on the top shelf. This leads me to ask - Sex in the City style, 'Are the 18yo Ileachs the scud-mags of the whisky world?'
Both these malts were very easy-drinking and pleasant. Frau Wind & Cloud commented that these are the kind of drams you would get someone who 'doesnae like whisky'. The Bunnahabhain came in at a very tasty £2.75. Also spotted on the shelves, at various altitudes, were the likes of Scapa 16, Aberlour A' Bunadh (only £3.50ish for a cask-strength), Bruichladdich Waves and Links as well as the usual Satanic Diageo regulars. One or two interesting blends too, such as Praban na Linne's Mac na Mara, which is handy if you happen to be drinking with the Lord George Foulkes and are sinking them faster than Hibs' goalies flap balls into their own net.
Not sure which kind of punters they hope to attract in the long run. Students probably figure as do MSPs perhaps. Let's hope that the legions of yahs and Ben Fogle clones with their absurd fashions (think of Haircut 100 or young Tories high on a cocktail of Babycham and anal-relaxants) deem the Holyrood to be too close to Dumbiedykes for their safety. I can't see the punks returning though. All in all, well worth a visit. Especially if you combine it with a cèilidh to Bannermans down the road as detailed previously.