The 20 Absolute Best Whisky Bars In London

Whisky has been coursing through the bloodstream of Scottish and Irish history for hundreds of years. The word 'whisky' or 'whiskey' is derived from the original Galic phrase uisge beatha, meaning water of life. The distilled spirit was used medicinally and amongst monasteries until around the 16th century when it became a more sociable beverage. Now considered the (fire) water of the (night) life in London, and elsewhere in the U.K. the U.S., and other areas of the world. It is likely that whisky began its cross-continental travels first through monks and then immigrants, making its way to Europe and the Americas in the 1600s via Scottish and Irish immigrants.

The varieties of whisky available at the local bar or pub will greatly reflect what area of the world you find yourself in. Whilst once largely reserved for whiskies of Scotland, of which there are over 140, London's palate and demand for a more expansive representation has grown. Many bars and pubs now offer a list that includes a few bourbons (which must be 51% corn and distilled in the U.S. amongst other distinctions), Japanese whiskies, and a wider representation of Irish whiskey as well. Readers interested in conducting a whisky (or whiskey, if referring to American or Irish varieties) crawl across the Big Smoke, here are some of London's best whisky bars to add to your itinerary.

The Lexington

As the name suggests, The Lexington, located in North London between Kings Cross and Angel, celebrates all things Kentucky, from bourbon to beer to blues. Customers come with the expectation and opportunity to let their hair down, flash a "rock on" gesture into the air, and sip a few of their favorite bourbons or whiskies; the bar stocks over 100 types.

Whether it's bourbon, rye whiskey, or single barrel you're after, The Lexington has quite a few, with selections from across the pond alongside a good selection of American beers and whisky-based cocktails, including a bourbon espresso martini, whiskey sour, and Old Fashioned, among others. Lexington sets itself apart by offering vegan American fast food and bar grub, including Texas toast, loaded fries, and wings, to name just a few. Homesick Americans might feel right at home from an evening spent in this central London bar.

The Blues Kitchen

The Blues Kitchen is known around as a place to go for hot music, bottomless chicken wings, and a good stiff drink. What's not to love? The concept has been so successful you can now find Blues Kitchen in three locations in some of London's coolest neighborhoods, Brixton, Camden, and Shoreditch, and another in Manchester.

Once more, what goes better with live blues and soul than a whisky or bourbon? Nothing unless it's served alongside a burger or barbecue, which Blues Kitchen also serves in spades. Whether you prefer a bourbon-based cocktail like a Kentucky Mule or a straight-up glass of Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, or Woodford Reserve, The Blues Kitchen has it. Listing seven whiskies just from Tennessee on the menu, it also has an extensive list of whisky from around the world.


Milroy's is known for being London's oldest independent whisky merchant, selling varieties by the hundreds with just about every type under the sun. Founded in 1964 by the Milroy brothers, John and Wallace, it's become known as the go-to shop and bar to begin your whisky journey.  Though the shop eventually passed hands, sold on by the brothers in the '90s, the focus remains the same. If you're even just a little whisky curious, a stop into their Soho or Spitalfields-based bar and shop to see what the fuss is about is well worth your time.

Milroy's also runs year-round whisky tastings for those interested in a curated and guided tour, with tastings from Kalavan Taiwanese whisky and the Lakes Distillery from Northern England. And for those looking to make a night of it with live music, you'll want to read on to learn about The Vault, where the after-hours action happens.

Slim Jim's Liquor Store

Slim Jim's is the bar that never sleeps. Open late seven days a week, with a happy hour Monday to Friday, live music, and over 80 types of whisky to choose from; this place has it all a whisky drinker could ever want (unless, of course, it's an early night and a quiet bar). Slim Jim's also prides itself on carrying classic American brew, including the iconic PBR and Brooklyn Brewery varieties, amongst other local craft beers.

For those mathematically inclined, here is Slim Jim's by numbers: It currently has 23 bourbons, eight rye whiskies, 14 Irish whiskies, 24 scotch whiskies, five Japanese whiskies, and the list goes on. Located on popular Upper Street in Islington, this is the perfect place to end (or begin) a big night out.


An evening at Artesian might be the perfect suggestion for whisky lovers looking for less down and dirty and more elegant and elevated. This bar doesn't scrimp on aesthetics or expertise, including hiring the best of the best to deliver an award-winning and memorable experience.

Each perfectly placed drinks garnish, devised by the head bartender and winner of the Patròn Perfectionist 2020, Guilia Cuccurullo, enhances the experience. Whether ordering a finely crafted cocktail or a dram from one of the 100-plus whiskies, drinks are the most delicious when accompanied by snacks from Humble Chicken, a Japanese-inspired menu thoughtfully prepared by chef Angelo Sato. Unsurprisingly, this stylish bar is located in The Langham Hotel in the chic neighborhood of Marylebone — another great pairing.

Black Rock

Over the last seven years, Black Rock has made a huge name for itself within London's whisky scene; you would be hard-pressed to find a list of whisky bar recommendations in the city without it. The whisky specialist bar has remained the reigning champion and title holder of "UK's Best Specialist Bar" by CLASS Magazine for the last four years and counting. So, if you like whisky and you live or find yourself in London, you'd be a fool not to book a reservation at Black Rock to see what all the fuss is about.

Among its many offerings and services, Black Rock has a unique talking point; a tree trunk-turned-table that features two separate "whisky rivers" flowing through it– one on each side. Were that not enough to draw in the crowds, it also hosts a weekly tasting event, with a new distillery to explore each Tuesday. Tickets are available for purchase online at £20 per person. Black Rock also hosts unique blending workshops where guests will walk away with their own unique blending of whisky to take home as a souvenir and enjoy.

The Connaught Bar

The Connaught Bar is a masterclass in swanky sophistication. Located in the affluent Mayfair neighborhood, the interior oozes with a mixture of slick design and rich textures, creating a subtle balance of opulence-meets-elegance. In 2022 the Connaught was named the 8th best bar in the world by The World's 50, making it a top-of-the-list place to visit, no matter your poison.

Order a whisky-based cocktail like the Magnetum, which includes a mixture of Macallan 12, lemon verbena, fennel, and pineapple. Or try a cardamom-infused Good Fellas to sip at the beautiful bar. The extensive whisky list includes American, Japanese, Irish, English, and Scottish varieties and distilleries. There are plenty of other spirits at the bar and a selection of fine canapés, caviars, oysters, and of course, pizza to accompany whatever beverage tickles your fancy. The entire operation is a masterclass in sophistication, glamor, and class.

Bull in a China Shop

Come for the specialist whisky bar, and stay for the food. Bull in a China shop has something for everyone, whether or not you're a whisky drinker (but especially if you are). With over 100 Japanese and Scottish whiskies, this small, 50-seat restaurant proves that big things come in small packages.

Bull in a China shop in Shoreditch is one of the rare whisky bars serving food all day (or at least for as long as it is open), with much of the menu featuring regions from across Asia. Enjoy one of the delicious cocktails, like a Pear and Cardamon highball or a whisky flight, while dining on a few dishes. The menu included various steamed bao options, Hainan-style rotisserie chicken, tempeh (a versatile vegan protein), and gyoza. First, choose your whisky, then ask a staff member for the best food pairings. Dedicated whisky drinkers should consider a flip toward the back of the menu to choose from rarer specialist whiskies. This place has it all.


Boisdale offers up a little more variety, accommodating whisky drinkers from a few different markets. Drawing in crowds with its live music, pre-theater dining options at its Belgravia location, set lunch menus, and, of course, its whisky list, which is why it's on this list.

Drink-based education to support informed customer choices is a feature of Boislade, apparent on the menu alone. Detailed on Boisdale's whisky list is a map of Scotland (amongst other countries) featuring the Islands, Highlands, Speyside, Campbeltown, and Lowlands, helping customers become familiar with where the contents of the wee drams are distilled. The menu also features a map of flavors, from rich to smoky, delicate to winey, including where each make falls on the list. There's even a glossary of words used to describe the whisky distilling process. The 56-page drinks menu is a masterclass in spirit education and a template others should follow for helping to create accessible information in a fun and informative way.

Smok'd at The Grey Horse

Suppose you're looking for a serious whisky, bourbon, and rye selection in a laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere. In that case, Smok'd at The Grey Horse is your spot. Located on the edge of South London in Kingston upon Thames, Smok'd feature a list of heavy-handed pours alongside great burgers, barbecue, and wings. The cocktail menu includes classics like an old-fashioned whisky sour and others alongside more experimental Laphfreduian Slip, which features peaty Laphroaig, apple pie moonshine, orange blossom water, passionfruit, lemon, and vanilla bitters.

Start with the drinks, then move on to the food. The menu includes pork belly ribs served with flavorful kimchi, buffalo cauliflower, cheeseburger spring rolls, or a selection of loaded fries, including pork, brisket, or beans. In the back of the bar, you'll find a separate venue for live music, comedy, and a pub quiz, making it the perfect weekend destination for all of the fun under one roof.


For those diners with a taste for the rich, earthy flavors of whisky paired with the warming spices of Northern Indian cuisine, Saltbar is your one-stop shop. With over 200 types of whisky from around the globe, the restaurant also features a menu featuring all the chaats you could ever desire, beautiful biryanis, thalis, and more.

Prepare yourself for an evening filled with food and drink. For those looking to explore a few options with a bit of a guiding hand, a Saltbar whisky or bourbon tour might be the best way to go. Or, extend your whisky knowledge and choose from a selection of limited edition single malt scotch whiskies, Irish whiskies, or American bourbons. Do save room for food, as there is an extensive range of Indian dishes, including a few special Jain dishes, a type of vegetarian cuisine based on the community's concept of non-violence that excludes some root vegetables.


With three centrally located bars in Southwark's Borough Market, Shoreditch, and Soho, Londoners can swiftly make a beeline to Swift's bar from almost anywhere around the city. Start the night upstairs with the clear alcohol and wine lists — the floor is reserved for walk-ins only, which makes the drinks, as the website says, "Swift by name and swift by nature." The Downstairs Bar is reservations only, serving more complexly made drinks with an extensive whisky-based menu and a distinctly slower, moodier atmosphere.

The whisky list is long, and with a reservation, customers are at leisure to can slow down for long enough to properly peruse it. Choose from Scotch, American bourbon, rye, Japanese and Irish whiskies, and more from around the globe. Swift also serves beautifully made cocktails, inspired by some of the staff's global experiences. A DJ spins tunes to get you moving on Thursdays at Swift's Shoreditch location, with free live music on Sundays in Soho. Just don't spill your drink.

The Sun Tavern

This London neighborhood bar, set up in the borough of Bethnal Green, has made a reputation for having the city's largest Irish whiskey collection. It's also known for having the world's largest selection of Irish spirit Poitín. This intensely strong, once illegal, distilled beverage can be traced back to the 6th century if not before, pre-dating whiskey.

The whiskey and Irish spirits list is eye-waveringly over 200 labels long, including selections from a private collection and rare and vintage bottles. The Sun Tavern also offers a few strong and classic cocktails, with a third offering a whiskey base. For those looking for a few nibbles to help soak up the booze, there are beautifully aged charcuterie and cheese boards, hummus, pickles, and sardines to accompany whatever Irish-born spirit you choose. With live music and DJs every Thursday, a visit here seems like a guaranteed good time.

Hide's Bar Below

Hide's Bar Below is the place to slink away from the light and bustle of its Piccadilly location, into an expertly crafted cocktail or stiff drink. Start with an exceptionally cooked meal in Hide, a light-filled, seasonally-focused restaurant by Michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous. Then, retreat to the bar below to dive into a cocktail. Below's basement location lends itself to the bar's moodier speakeasy vibes, with three separate private rooms available for private hire.

We wouldn't mind bathing ourselves in Hide's Brown Butter Julep, made from Micher's rye whisky, brown butter, mint, and bitters. The Hide Rob Roy with Tamdhu Scotch single malt whisky, sweet vermouth, butterscotch, and beeswax reads like a sweet ending and is the perfect drink for finishing a night out on the town.

Dropkick Jonny's

Dropkick Jonny's in Richmond is where folks in Southwest London head for their local whisky fix. This hidden whisky bar is located above Richmond's Tap Tavern, making it a well-kept secret unless you're in the know (and now you are). Open Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. until who knows when this speakeasy-like whisky watering hole doesn't mess around when it comes to playing hard.

Booking online via the Dropkick Jonny's website for a coveted place at the bar, then buckle up for a whisky-soaked evening. Start with a whisky-based cocktail like the Smoked Old Fashioned, or caffeinate with an Irish Cold Brew or select a dram or two from the list. You may want to prepare first with a double cheeseburger or schnitzel from Tap Tavern's menu beforehand for optimum enjoyment.

Milroy's The Vault of Soho

Milroy's The Vault feels like a page taken right out of a detective novel, down to its access point, through a false bookcase upstairs. Descend the stairs to enter the booze-filled, dimly lit, award-winning cellar below. A side of mystery and intrigue accompanies every expertly sourced and poured drink here.

For those who decide to make Monday the new Friday and venture out to The Vault's Greek Street location, you'll be delighted with a stiff pour from an extensive collection of whiskies and a live jazz performance to accompany your drink. Given its cozy atmosphere, booking is essential to avoid disappointment. Anyone claiming to be a whisky lover should not miss a chance to visit Milroy's, both the upstairs bar and shop, as well as The Vault, for a truly unique, specialist experience.

Melody Whisky Bar

Boasting an eye-watering, decision-fatigue-inducing 17-page whisky menu, with bottles spanning across the globe, including Israel, Sweden, Scotland, and Japan, Melody couldn't be anything other than a whisky bar. Thankfully to help with the decision fatigue, Melody's smartly offers a variety of flights of up to five types or trios of up to three  based on flavor, origin, or distillery. Though even the choice there can become overwhelming.

Melody's also offers an introduction to whisky tasting class every Saturday evening, including a history of how it is made and how best to enjoy it, for newcomers to the spirit. Located in easy-to-get-to Hammersmith in the St. Paul's Hotel, this seems like a great excuse to book a room and then a couple of flights (of either the drink or to its source, depending on how the night goes) for a wonderful whisky-themed evening.

Alba at Silverleaf

Whisky heads looking for a combination of independent cocktail bar vibes and a well-established luxury hotel should look no further than Alba at Silverleaf. Silverleaf is located on the third floor of Devonshire House near Spitalfields. The dress code for dining or drinking is notably smart/elegant, as is the experience.

Silverleaf hosts a separate room called Alba for exclusive weekly whisky-tasting experiences. Tuesday night whisky tastings include five varieties for those looking to dip a toe in. And, for those whose feet are already wet, a more extensive exploration takes place each Thursday, known as Epicure Whisky Tasting, and features more premium brands. While these public classes are available to book through the website, they can also be booked out privately for up to 12 whisky-loving friends or family.

The Berkeley

The Berkeley Bar and Terrace opened in 2019 in the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, boasting an interior worth writing about. It's accompanied by an equally spectacular drinks list and a private dining option referred to as "the snug," a British term referring to a cozy (some might say, snug), room within a pub.

Here, beautifully cooked food is paired with elegant cocktails, including a Honey Mule, made with bourbon, a bitter British honey aperitif known as Beesou, and cinnamon syrup, and an Old Fashioned that incorporates flavors of apricot. Whisky drinkers will drool over the list of single malts, including an extensive Japanese and American whisky list. The interior, designed by Bryan O'Sullivan, famously uses 300-year-old wood, once part of the Fulbeck Estate before an epic storm in 2007 flattened many of the trees.

Merchant House Bar

Last but not least on our list is Merchant House Bar. Whisky lovers, brace yourself for decision fatigue when stepping food inside Merchant House. With over 600 whisky varieties, it's enough to send anyone's head spinning, even before a single sip.

Want a bit of privacy while choosing your drink? Merchant House allows guests to book what they claim to be "London's smallest bar," a two-to-four-person private room with its own personal bartender to bombard all your spirit-related questions and specifications. Or, for those looking for something a bit more structured, public and private masterclasses that feature a variety of different, single-spirit subjects are also available, from gin to rum, to whisky.

The Merchant House is exclusively a sit-down establishment, so reservations are strongly advised. You'll probably need to take a seat to fully absorb their list of drinks available.