Photo of
December 17, 2012
The whisky snug at HdV Edinburgh

If you are still not sorted out for Christmas then the 5pm blog commends your steely nerves – few people play chicken with the festive season and show quite such bravery.

Naturally, we have some suggestions for those who may be stuck for Xmas gift inspiration. To start, Edinburgh’s Hotel du Vin is running a tasty Big Deal on private dining today.

Private dining offer

For £290, eight people can enjoy a three course meal in one of the private dining rooms at Edinburgh’s atmospheric Hotel du Vin in the Old Town.

The offer includes a glass of Prosecco on arrival and four bottles of wine to share as well as Head Chef Gavin Lindsay’s hearty brasserie dishes.

Tutored wine tasting

There is even the option to add on a one hour tutored wine tasting in the hotel’s striking Laroche Tasting Room. You can find the full details here.

This blogger has a soft spot for the Hotel du Vin – not least because they have teamed up with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to offer SMWS malts to its guests.

Rare whiskies

From its lovely Members’ Rooms in Leith and on Queen Street, the SMWS serves single cask malt whiskies from anonymous distilleries.

Quite unlike anything you will taste from most mainstream drinks suppliers, these cask bottlings are unique and, once they are finished, then that’s it – there is no more. It’s a set up which gives new meaning to the idea of rare whiskies.

**Cool venues


As well as intriguing whiskies, the SMWS Members’ Rooms are rather cool. At the Vaults in Leith, it’s all open fires, wing-backed leather chairs and a breath-taking gantry filled with whiskies of wonder.

The Queen Street branch is housed in an elegant townhouse which also features the popular Dining Room.

Both are resolutely unstuffy. The words whisky and club may create a certain impression but the SMWS venues are the antidote to old buffers’ hangouts.

Whisky gift

Usually, the Members’ Rooms and their whiskies are only available to members but, since joining forces with Hotel du Vin, non-members can sample the SMWS drams at the Hotel Du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow and Hotel du Vin in Edinburgh. The whisky snug in Edinburgh is particularly cosy.

Alternatively, membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society costs £110 with a £57 annual renewal charge. Membership gives access to the rooms in Leith, Queen Street and to the branch in London plus members can sign in up to three guests. If there is a whisky lover in your life then this could be the ideal Christmas present.

The lucky recipient will also enjoy four sample bottles, a notebook, members’ handbook and a subscription to Unfiltered, the Society’s award-winning magazine which we blogged about here.

Dab it behind your ears: the tasting notes at the SMWS are unconventional