A whisky lovers guide to Melbourne

From the Scottish Highlands to Tokyo’s Golden Gai district to prohibition era Manhattan, Melbourne’s a tasting paddle for a whole world of whisky. Here’s where to wet your whistle for World Whisky Day (18 May).

World Whisky Day at Highlander

From the Highlands to the Islands, a wee taste of Scotland awaits at this laneway hideaway. At World Whisky Day at Highlander, sample regional malts with a tasting flight and nibble on whisky inspired tapas. Or pick a perfectly paired Balvenie Distillery whisky and cheese paddle.

With a Glendfiddich cocktail special or Scottish craft beer boilermaker in hand, head upstairs for Burlesque artist and Scottish pin-up Whisky Falls’ signature act, A Dram of Glam. Catch a lassie’s take on the classic champagne showgirl act upstairs at 7pm, 8.30pm and 10pm. Plus there are bottles of single malt to be won. Saturday 18 May, 5pm till late.

1806

Named after the year ‘cocktail’ first appeared in print, 1806’s prohibition-era decor is bested only by its award-winning repertoire of classic cocktails. With over 110 whiskies on their dedicated menu, there’s a fiery drop here to please everyone. Or indulge with the 1806 Whisky Experience for two or more – a whisky cocktail followed by a tasting session with one of their resident whisky experts, plus matched seasonal canapés.

Cocktail in glass with menu on table

1806

Take a tour

Learn about Victoria’s distilling history and discover the craft whisky revival in this tour of Melbourne’s boutique whisky scene with Southern Whisky Trails’ Saturday Whisky Session: Stockade to the Stars. Begin with a boilermaker or highball at the Japanese-inspired Whisky Den, visit two Melbourne distilleries, learn about the whisky-making process and sample world class local drams. Lunch included. Saturday 25 May 12.30pm to 6pm.

Whisky Den

Don’t be fooled by its miniature digs – this Japanese drinking den houses an encyclopedic range. The walls glow with everything from silky Japanese ambers to peaty Scottish malts. The team behind Whisky Den‘s bar are experts in whisky novice recommendations and will happily summarise the merits of Highland vs Speyside as they mix your highball. Try the Old Fashioned with Kentucky Old Forester.

Bar Clara

Hidden underneath Chinatown, this gorgeous green velvet and copper basement bar has an expertly curated cocktail list. Skip dessert and head to Bar Clara for the banoffee pie cocktail with banana whisky or the creamy pumpkin pie in a glass; Bourbon, butternut pumpkin, egg yolk, and demerara syrup garnished with toasted spices. Delish.

Cocktail in glass with meringue on top being blow torched

Bar Clara

Whisky and Alement

If you thought you were a whisky connoisseur before, wait until you visit Whisky and Alement. An ever changing menu of over 1000 whiskies is on offer, from the classics right through to some of the rarest varieties in the world. Take a journey to the whisky equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and let their charming staff guide you to the ultimate taste.

Person stirring drink

Whisky and Alement

Boilermaker House

If a few of your favourite things include whisky, cheese and charcuterie, don’t scroll any further – Boilermaker House is about to become your best friend. With over 700 whiskies on offer, you’ll find the perfect pairings and taste flavour combinations from around the world.

A bottle of whisky pouring into a glass at height on a wooden bench

Boilermaker House

The Whisky Boutique

Did somebody say “bespoke whisky”? That’s right, The Whisky Boutique is a lounge dedicated to experiencing whisky from all over the world. From some of the most famous single malts to the more obscure small-batch brands, everything is available to sample or buy.

Saving Grace

With food served until 11pm Monday to Saturday, Saving Grace is an indulgence utopia where international whiskies and classic cocktails reign supreme. The cosy diner bar is nestled at the bottom of an unassuming office block, but don’t be fooled by its understated simplicity. Here you can combine your favourite whisky with a classic burger or be adventurous and try something new – you’ll be delighted either way.

Eau de Vie

Calling all cocktail enthusiasts with a penchant for the theatrical – Eau de Vie is your new haunt. Their famous ‘Smokey Rob Roy’ cocktail will transport you back to a bygone era of great service, tommy guns and good times. Or sign up for a a masterclass in the amber stuff; hone your nose in Whisky 101, embark on a Tour of Scotland – the home of single malt, or go full connoisseur and take a deep dive into the Old & Rare.

A glass with plooms of smoke cascading down the side, and a bottle and filled glass beside it

The Smokey Rob Roy at Eau-de-Vie

HiHou

Why spend all your money on flights to Japan when you can simply go to Flinders Lane. HiHou is an elegant Japanese bar and lounge serving whisky, shochu, umeshu (Japanese plum wine), sake and cocktails. If you’ve been to the best bars in Tokyo before, you’ll find that HiHou recreates the atmosphere perfectly. And if you’ve never travelled there, no need! Everything you’re looking for is right here.

Market Lane Bar

A combination of vintage whisky bar, New York supper club and sleek modern speakeasy, Market Lane Bar is located beneath the glass atrium of the InterContinental Rialto. Pull up a chair and relax to the sounds of live jazz with one of their 130 whiskies in hand. It’s the perfect place to meet a friend, go for after work drinks or on a romantic date, with an abundance of delicious food and high tea options to choose from.

Beneath Driver Lane whisky and winter blues

Pair your poison with some live blues, every Friday Saturday and Sunday over winter at Beneath Driver Lane, an underground bar with an astounding 400+ whisky range. If you’re feeling luxurious then order one of their high end whiskys and sip it inside the exclusive Benromach Whisky Vault, an invite only room hidden away for the most serious whisky admirers.

Glasses on a barrel inside a bar, one being filled with whisky

Beneath Driver Lane

Please drink responsibly.