Royal MIle Whiskies Shop Breakdown
Location: 379 High Street, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1PW
Phone: +44 (0)131 225 3383
Opening times: Varies by season, see website for current hours.
Attributes: Very competitive pricing, knowledgeable staff, beautiful old world decor.
Advice: Make sure you find the real one. During tourist season (Summer) the shop gets busy and it’s not a large shop.
The one and only Royal Mile Whiskies shop! As the name would suggest it does indeed sit upon the Royal Mile (High Street) in Edinburgh (actually they have another location by the same name in London but this is the original). In fact it commands quite the location being opposite of St. Giles Cathedral which is on the more touristy side of North Bridge (the road that goes over the bridge with the stunning view of the Castle). The overall look of the place is almost too perfectly old world charm. Its wooden framed front windows featuring displays seemingly right out of “Martin Dressler: Tale of an American Dreamer” and victorian library interior scream tourist trap. Indeed that’s what I thought when I first came to Edinburgh.
I can vaguely recall my first experience there going something like this:
From the outside – “Well this place looks fancy, I guess I’ll just have a peak.”
Upon entering – “This place is fancy! I bet all the prices are inflated to take advantage of tourists. Better make a run for it before someone talks to me.” (without even looking at the prices)
After departure – “Phew! That could have been costly and awkward.”
However, I could not have been more wrong about the place! I suspect other people have made the same mistake as I once did. What I later discovered is that RMW (Royal Mile Whiskies) is in fact one of the best places in Edinburgh to purchase whiskies. The reason being that they also have a sizeable online store with online competitive pricing and unlike some hybrid shops, their in-shop prices are the same as their online prices. So basically, it would be hard to find a shop with better average pricing than these merchants. They also carry an impressive range of rare bottlings for the thirsty millionaire to purchase or the curious average alcoholic to gander.
The shop staff are knowledgeable and on the more helpful end of British service standards. They also often employ students from the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, and Napier University whisky societies which means they can often sympathize with budget concerns.
One general thing to keep in mind when purchasing whiskies in the UK is that for most internationally available whiskies, the pricing is better outside of British soil. I know of many people (inlcuding myself) who were perplexed that a bottle of Glenlivet was more expensive in Scotland than back in the states. The main reason being taxes (I’ll not go into detail about the whole tax and whisky peculiarities in this post, perhaps in another post). So what this boils down to is that if you are purchasing whisky in the UK, it would be wise to look for something not available from wherever you are from. The folks at RMW should be able to help you with this but it will also help to have an idea of what’s available where you’re from, beforehand.
One of the really nice things about RMW for tourists is that it is so close to many of the major attractions (such as the Edinburgh Castle). This means that if you are with a group of people who are less interested in whisky, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to convince your group to stop by the shop or, if they have no interest, you’ll only need a short departure from the group to visit RMW. Sounds good right? One thing to be wary of is that there are in fact quite a few whisky shops on the Royal Mile. Many of which have copied the style and/or name of the shop to some degree. A lot of these shops are tourist traps with outlandish pricing and less than knowledgeable attendants. So make sure you get to the right one. If you do, you might see me inside, distracting the staff from their salesperson duties.
A panorama of the interior:
PS There are other shops owned by the same people. Some specialize more in wines but they can all move product around between them so if you can find it online you can get it in the shop within a few days. Also the Cigar Box is a shop right next to RMW and owned by RMW and obviously specializes in Cigars. So a nice one stop shop for unhealthy luxurious items.
Here are the other locations:
Royal Mile Whiskies
London WC1B 3QE
Phone: +44 (0)20 7436 4763
The Cigar Box
Edinburgh EH1 1PW
Phone: +44 (0)131 225 3534
Pitlochry PH16 5BL
Phone: +44 (0)1796 470 133
Edinburgh EH10 4HN
Phone: +44 (0)131 229 2205