Bennets Bar, as it has been my delight to discover, is one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets, stocking and selling only the finest malts from across the world. Manager Kevin Weldon is keen to educate the masses on the finer points of a good malt and ensures his entire workforce are equipped to pass on the most interesting facts and trivia on whisky etiquette and production.
A Malt Whisky Demonstration for Beginners sounded spot on for someone whose knowledge on the liquor stretched as far as the difference between red and black labels. Weldon was courteous, welcoming and knowledgeable. Each participant in the demonstration, as well as being offered a fundamental education in the manufacture of whisky, is given samples of three different premium single malts.
Weldon shows nothing but passion for one of Scotland’s greatest industries, which is estimated to make £132 per second from exports alone. With East Asia being one of the largest markets for Scotch, participants are given a well-rounded presentation on the subtle differences in the manufacturing process that give the various worldwide exports such distinctive tastes. More complicated subjects such as the difference between malts were clearly explained and backed up by thought-provoking, historical examples such as the Gun Barrel test - a Victorian process by which whiskies were mixed with gunpowder, then set alight with matches to detect their legitimacy as malts.
Whiskies that were sampled during the demonstration included a 10-year Macallen, a 15-year Balvenie and the sherry casked Talisker Storm. Wheldon had a charming approach to his demo, making the experience very conversational and open. His obvious passion for what he does was the cloud on top of the malt (having a cloudy whisky is, I have learnt, a good thing). The Demonstration for Beginners is a must for anyone with a vague appreciation of whisky. If you can’t make it down, make sure you drop into Bennets for a bottle of Innocent Gun beer – it’ll knock your socks off.