Ah Cadenhead’s. A truly remarkable shop. A truly remarkable bottler. WM Cadenhead is the oldest independent bottler in Scotland. Hailing back to 1842. That’s a long time ago. Cadenhead’s is currently owned by J & A Mitchell & Co (the same family who own Springbank), which means they still have that traditional feel. While bottlings from Cadenhead’s can be found at many specialist whisky shops, the best place to find them is at a Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop. Sort of like Apple products maybe?
There are Cadenhead shops spread about Europe, but in this post I will be talking about the best one. Edinburgh’s Cadenhead’s Shop. Ok well admittedly I haven’t been to the others but I can’t imagine them being any better than this. This little shop carries some of the most diverse and entertaining selections of whisky in the world. They also have live casks in the shop from which you can purchase some excellent whisky for excellent value. They also carry non-whisky spirits such as rum, gin, and brandy. Actually they were more known for rum back in the day and some of the old guard are still shocked to find that they carry anything else.
If you are in Edinburgh, you should go to this shop.
Here are the things you need to know about Cadenhead’s Edinburgh Shop:
- It mostly carries whiskies from the independent bottler but also carries other whiskies.
- Being owned by the folks who own Springbank it is also a good place to find Springbank products (i.e. Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn) as well as product from Glengyle Distillery (i.e. Kilkerran).
- There is a large chalk board on the wall to the right with a list of cask strength single cask or small batch bottlings ordered alphabetically by distillery with abv, cask type, and price. (This is the wall you want to look at!)
- There are different live casks behind the desk on the left labelled as: Highland, Campbeltown, Islay, Rum (I think there is one more). New whisky (or rum) from those respective regions are poured into the casks periodically to make a living blended malt. Thus it is always changing yet always retaining a bit of the past. I always suggest these for tourists since you definitely won’t find this exact whisky anywhere else or any other time for that matter. You can also purchase bottles in sizes 20cl, 35cl and 70cl, which gives you some nice options depending on your budget or luggage space.
- The bottles on display in the shop are filled with coloured water, not whisky. This is to deter shop lifting. As a consequence some of the contents of the bottles look a bit weird. This is not the whisky so don’t worry!
- Similarly there is a bottle from the 1920’s on a small shelf in the shop which is valued at £20k (or something like that). This is not the actual bottle. Although most people see it and wonder why such an expensive bottle is just sitting on a shelf in the open.
- Please do not pester the shopkeeps for a sample of whisky. It is a whisky shop, not a bar. Some people get that mistaken. Samples are sometimes given to regular customers who purchase more whisky than anybody should. If you are not one of these, please do not complain about not getting a sample. If you are purchasing more than £500 worth of whisky in one visit, can I have some?
- The shop is very small and usually only one or two people are staffed at a time which means it can get crowded easily and wait times for help can be long. Please be patient or come back when it is less crowded. It’s worth the wait!
- Be respectful and try to buy something if you come here. You can buy a 20cl bottle from the live casks which will cost you less than a meal and probably be much tastier.
In conclusion, if you are in Edinburgh you should go to this shop. I am always surprised about all the people who like alcohol and live in Edinburgh but have never been to Cadenhead’s. It’s like living in New York and never using the subway. Just shameful really. If you are visiting Edinburgh and looking for whisky that you can’t find back at home, Cadenhead’s is your best bet. If you like single cask, cask strength whiskies or you’ve never tried it before, you should come here. The only reason you should not come here is if you are a bad person and generally bad things happen around you. If you are that person, what’s the deal?
The shop does not have a website, but here are the details:
|Monday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Thursday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Friday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|
|Saturday||10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.|