Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Great places to drink whisky - Soho Whisky Club

Earlier this week we were delighted to be invited to an event at one of London's newest whisky venues - the Soho Whisky Club. As the name suggests, the Club is located in the heart of London's bustling Soho area and offers a wide range of whiskies to its private members.  It is the brainchild of Malcolm Mullin, the owner of the legendary Vintage House shop, above which it sits.

The Vintage House has become a Soho institution since it was opened in the 1940s by Italian Leo Donati and Malcolm has owned the shop for many years. His father George had married Leo's daughter Diana and they took over the shop when Leo died shortly after the Second World War. It continues to bring a vast array of premium wines, spirits and cigars to Londoners today.

As you go through the unassuming doorway next to the shop in Old Compton Street, you go up some stairs and are taken to a different world far away from the one that you have just left.  The main room consists of the well stocked bar, with built-in cigar humidor, and a seating area for around 20-25 people. The bar has around 350 whiskies, of which approximately 300 are single malt Scotches.  Some of these include some very rare bottlings, which are virtually impossible to sample or find in a regular bar (or even most whisky bars), and these are kept under lock and key.

The 'regular' whisky shelves
They have a full set of the Glenfarclas Family Cask series, minus the 1976 (someone had obviously purchased the whole bottle). This makes the Soho Whisky Club is one of the very few bars in the world where you can buy a dram of each Vintage in the series. However, we were more impressed by the range of ‘regular’ whiskies that was on offer - there were a decent number of interesting/rarely seen single malts that demand attention. These were divided in to shelves priced at the affordable £3.95, £4.95 and £5.95 a shot.

The Cigar Terrace
Another key feature of the Soho Whisky Club is their Cigar Terrace. To reach this you go up a couple of steps and through a door. You are then standing in a swanky terraced area in the recess between numerous Soho buildings. This is fitted with seating and tables, plus umbrellas to protect from the elements when necessary. The Club are planning to use the space to host regular cigar and whisky matching educational events for members.

The other idea is that you can select a cigar from the range, which is housed in the Club's bespoke built-in humidor, and then smoke it out on the terrace with a dram of your favourite whisky. The range is all Cuban and totals around 35 types, ranging in price from a 10 pack of Romeo & Julieta Minis for £5.95 up to a Cohiba Genios for £28.70. Alternatively, you can select a cigar from the larger 100-strong range stocked downstairs in The Vintage House, or bring your own cigars, and then smoke them for no extra charge.

So, how do you join and what does it include? To sign up please visit their website – an annual membership will cost you £200 and this allows you access to the Club between 10am and 11pm. The Club also serves coffee and tea for those visiting during the day, as well as offering the chance to buy a bottle of wine from the extensive selection in the shop downstairs and open/drink it in the Club for a corkage fee of £12. Members of the Club are allowed to bring three pre-arranged guests to the premises with them as well.

For any further information on the Club, forthcoming events or questions, please contact the manager Patrick McCourt at sohowhiskyclub@gmail.com or phone on 020-70181168.

No comments: