Where to Drink Whisky in London: Milroy’s of Soho

Milroy’s of Soho in London was one of the best whisky bar experiences I have had… and I’ve had many. The bar stacked with scotches – around a quarter of them that I have not tried (and some bourbons and Irish whiskies to boot), and the bartenders were incredibly knowledgeable. For the whisky geeks, they poured complimentary tastes before you committed to a dram.

Entrance to a whisky haven
Backbar of Milroy’s. Lots of very nice and pricey stuff up top, but a lot of interesting things I haven’t tried at the bottom as well!

One of the fun things is that there is no menu. Now, this can be an incredibly pricey venture if you blindly pick out only top shelf bottles, but sometimes it’s fun to suppress the inner cheapskate that regrettably opts for a worse whisky than the one you would have enjoyed more. Also, if I can recall correctly, the pours were quite reasonable. I’m pretty sure my bartender knew I was price sensitive because I initially was asking how much pours were – and he ended up suggesting reasonably priced pours (my bill was around 41 GBP after ordering 4 drams).

Started out with the Henry McKenna because it was 1) cheap and under 10 euros and 2) really hard to find now that it won the top whisky at the SF World Spirits Competition. I enjoyed it a lot more than most bourbons, but I wouldn’t rank it as the top whisky.

Another bonus was that whisky bars like this attract whisky geeks like me. I started chatting with a gentleman who was next to me at the bar and seemed to know a thing or two about scotch.

Turned out he was a fellow /r/scotch detizen – nicknamed Uncle Baldric, and together we spent a while geeking out about some of the whisky war stories he had. For example, having a Black Bowmore on Islay – back before peaty whisky really blew up – for only 9.80 GBP at a local Islay inhabitant spot when across the street at a tourist spot it was 140 GBP). He also requested (and that includes you, dear readers!) for anyone visiting the Highlander Inn in Craigellaiche (the number one result for “whisky inn” on Google) to ask the manager there to open up the “fishkey whisky” for him. He has been dying to try it – it is considered the “worst whisky ever made” but the owner said he’d need someone else to want to try it beyond just Uncle B. I am not sure how I feel about this – because the whisky is finished… in  herring barrels.

Milroy's of Soho with Uncle Baldric
Milroy’s of Soho with Uncle Baldric

We shared quite a few drams before I decided it was time to head back to my hotel and prepare for the actual business part of my trip.

Before I left, I also visited Milroy’s secret speakeasy hidden behind the bookcase at the back of the shop. Just push – I spent a few minutes looking foolishly for a hidden “book” that might unlock it – and you enter a sizeable dark den of craft cocktails. It looked fantastic, but I knew my limits and instead headed home*.

*Okay, the last part is a bit of a stretch: they told me they could not seat me because they did not have any seats available for a single patron.

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