Edinburgh has a great sense of community and one of the best places to experience this is at one of the city’s weekend markets. Filled with stalls offering local food and goods, the markets are a place of the people. From freshly baked breads and antiques to handmade crafts, the markets have a bounty to offer for both locals and tourists.
Edinburgh Farmer’s Market (Castle)
Who: A variety of local producers and craftsmen. Check out their website below for a list of all the producers and who will be there on any given Saturday.
What: Fresh fruit and veg, Meats/fish/dairy, Sweets and Baking, Knitwear and ready-made foods.
Where: Castle Terrace
When: Saturday, year round, between 9am & 2pm.
Why: Right in the city, this market is easily reachable on foot (with access through the grassmarket via some stairs off King’s Stables road and Prince’s Street) and parking is generous with both street and a paid NCP parking lot nearby.
I’m not well known for frequenting bars/pubs around Edinburgh. I usually prefer to drink at a tasting or the comfort of my home (just a lazy bum I guess) but I do go out occasionally when my friends urge me to join them. So I know a few good places around Edinburgh to grab a dram or pint.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I was recently invited to the Opening Event for the Usquabae Whisky Bar and Larder located just on the west end of Princes Street. You can see a picture of the front at the top of the post.
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.
There are undoubtedly a sea of whisky tastings on offer in and around Edinburgh. Most of them are designed for tourists that have never had whisky before or very rarely. The touristy ones typically go through the standard expressions from the big name distilleries. The kind of stuff you can find at most places that sell whisky. I think these are great for beginners who want a classic introduction to whisky but if you are interested in something a bit more unique, I highly recommend going to a Jolly Toper Tasting.
The Jolly Toper Tastings are run by Mark Davidson, who was the manager of the Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop in Edinburgh for many years and now manages the Royal Mile Whiskies shop up the road on High Street (the street leading to the castle). Mark has an unimaginable wealth of knowledge on whisky and whisky history and focuses on providing unique tastings with whiskies that you are not likely to find at your local whisky shop (unless you live in Scotland). While his tastings are usually attended by well seasoned whisky drinkers, he makes it a point to have them open and inviting for beginners.
His tastings are usually held at the Kilderkin which is a right decent whisky bar at the end of High Street nearish to the Holyrood Palace. However, he occasionally offers tastings that are held on barges in the union canal or features a walkabout Edinburgh.
Here is his website for more information on the Jolly Toper Tastings: