They are not ones to brag, but Kaleidoscope Bar in Queen Street have won some prestigious awards over the past two years. Global Whisky Bar of the Year is the latest accolade from Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Bar Awards 2022. Entry depended on an earlier win - Icons of Whisky Scotland 2022 Award for best whisky bar.
The excellent restaurant 28 Queen Street closed in 2019 and this allowed the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to focus more on its raison d'être, the ‘Uisge Beatha’ and membership. However, you can still eat in the Kaleidoscope Bar, which is warm and welcoming with a real fire, leather sofas, tallboy tables, a bar stacked with gleaming bottles and splashes of colourful art on the walls. It is located on the ground floor of this Georgian townhouse.
The bar is open to non-members and acts as an introduction to the society. Our ‘DRAM-cierge’ Jeremy explains that The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has a huge range of ever-changing single cask, single malt whiskies. These bottlings are highlighted in the brochure Outturn available in print in-house and online. The SMSW visits distilleries, choosing from casks, and the whiskies are then nosed and evaluated by the society's panel of experts. The whiskies are then put into branded in SMWS bottles and made accessible with flavour profiles and themed, fun descriptions. The December Outturn features Sweet Dreams (are made of this) aka a Speyside, aged 18 years in a bourbon barrel and one of only 212 bottles available :
“The palate combines dreamy crème anglaise and comforting apple pie with relaxing camomile, before the forbidden pleasures of chocolate and tobacco seduce the finish.”
Someone somewhere is blushing.
A cheese plate comprises Cooleeny (so buttery!), Baron Bigod (creamy and nutty) and St Andrew’s Cheddar. The paired recommendation for the cheddar is Shades of Sherry which is full of dried fruit flavours. It would also have worked well with Kate’s Sticky Toffee Pudding which she said was a “real sweet treat”.
Our first two courses had been up to the standard of the deceased 28 Queen Street restaurant. Cauliflower Hummus was livened with dukkah and hot curry oil while Kate had tender on the inside, torched on the outside Fillet of Peat-Smoked Haddock. The chefs clearly know how to cook fish as my main of Roast Hake also has moist flesh and crispy skin. Kate’s Haunch of Venison with creamy polenta and blaeberry jus is a dish to return for. When I comment on the blaeberries, Jeremy confirms that the kitchen buys from a forager. There are not many who will input the labour required to harvest this delicious berry. Plates would have benefitted from a warming but apart from that the food was good.
I enjoyed myself so much that I resolved to buy Mr Bite a membership for Christmas … as long as he takes me along of course.