AWAY from the busiest of high streets and tourist areas, there are nearly always treasures that only the locals or those in the know speak of.
None more so, than Whisky Business.
'Everyone has this image of whisky with an old man drinking it, a cigar in his hand. It’s a bit sexist'
Hidden away in the former kitchen of the retired Jenny’s Seafood Restaurant, on Fenwick Street, lurks lies a library of gin, rum, whisky, whiskey and even rosé wine (Brad and Angelina’s world class vintage nonetheless) for the alcohol conoissseur, or even just those curious about a new tipple. If they can find it.
A small wooden plaque stating "Whisky Business. Shop. Drink. Learn" is the only indicator of what is down the steep green stairs.
Jenny's Bar, its housemate, and Whisky Business are joint ventures and opened their shared front door last year. Yet already they have found an army of fans happy to shun the typical drinking spots of Seel Street, Lark Lane and The Albert Dock to hunt out the secret watering hole.
Confidential is a fan of Jenny's Bar having discovered excellent service, leather aproned barmen and an odd double toilet (see here).
Jenny's Seafood Restaurant Shop Front"We’ve been here since the middle of December," explains shopkeeper Paul Murphy. No blood relation to Danny Murphy (Aloha, Jenny’s Bar and Berry and Rye) he quickly tells me. He jokes, "We’re brothers from another mother."
Murphy (no not that one, this one) runs the Whisky Business venture solo, "Murph the Whisky Man", and is happy to admit he has one of the best jobs going. Surrounded by rare drams and limited edition vintages, Murphy is a wealth of knowledge on not only whisky but every spirit going. He's tried them all, obviously.
"A chef in a restaurant gets to try every dish on the menu so it makes sense for us to have tried all of our stock. We’re very careful about we stock in here." There are a worse perks to a job, that’s for sure.
If whisky doesn't take your fancy, then there's rum, gin, wine, tequila and even white chocolate liquer on display across the walls of this tiny cave. Bottles in all shapes and sizes with Murphy's handwritten labels tied to their necks.
Even to the most discernible whisky drinker Murphy has a few words of wisdom and is chatting away to another customer about Speyside distillieries and premium casks.
We are interrupted by a young lad delivering a rare, small name whisky that Murphy has been waiting for. "You have to try this stuff," he urges as he pours out a sample.
Malt of the Earth is rich and everything an independent whisky should be. Or so I'm told. My whisky palette is illiterate and childlike in its ignorance compared with Murphy's.
"There’s a great rule that if you let it sit in your mouth for ten to 11 seconds then you’ll get the full flavours and be able to distinguish where it's from, the style and even what kind of cask it has been kept in," he says.
It's like learning a different language to a happy-hour cocktail girl like myself.
"This is what it's all about. Everyone has this image of whisky with an old man drinking it, a cigar in his hand. It’s a bit sexist," he adds.
The Whisky Business wants to change all that. It's about the small labels you don't find in the big name shops. Teaching people about drinks they haven't tried yet and have always been scared of. Discovering the whiskies that are set to be huge industry names and the new staples of the drinks industry.
Stocking everything would reduce this concept to being a mere off licence. Paying a little bit more for something not typically seen on a supermarket shelf is what keeps Whisky Business in, er, business.
Whisky drinkers understand that whisky is expensive. It’s going to cost you a bit more than if you just buy it off the supermarket shelf.
"I had a girl who came in looking for a present for her boyfriend. She knew quite a bit about the whisky she wanted to buy, even down to the style and the region of it. She only wanted to spend about £20 and I had to break it to her that she wasn’t going to get something in here for that."
Been hunting high and low for that rare bottled Macallan that sold out almost immediately? Murph is your man.
"We can source a particular drink if someone’s on the hunt for it." But does he add on a sneaky charge for sourcing prime bottles?
“No, no finders fee. We have a conscience, we’re nice people here. I’m not bloody Wonga.com,” he laughs.
Follow Niamh Spence on Twitter at @missnspence
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