Wine cellars are out of fashion. For those in the know, it's now whisky walls.
Whisky sales are on the rise and London's swankiest restaurants are buying into this new trend.
“Both with us and globally, whisky is selling more than before,” says Ben Murray, spirits buyer at Hedonism Wines in Davies Street.
And to display lavish and expensive whiskies from all over the world, whisky walls make for a striking restaurant feature. Enjoy the amber liquid swirling beautifully in glass decanters.
“The likes of Instagram have certainly helped the idea reach a wider audience,” Murray says.
Whisky, like wine, is a savvy collector’s item.
As he says: “The nature of collecting is that the collector has a great passion for it and, provided the objects are ones that can be displayed, then they will more than likely want to do this.”
Whisky has lots of attractive selling points.
“There are more whiskies on the market, including plenty of ‘limited editions’ and some are very hard to get hold of,” says Murray.
“Whisky isn’t perishable and doesn’t need the same conditions for storage that wine does, which makes it easier to put on display.”
As for where the top whiskies are from – Scotland is still dominant at Hedonism, Murray says.
Meanwhile, The Luggage Room (Marriott Grosvenor Square) has 28 Irish whiskies, including some limited-edition runs, alongside 18 American/Canadian whiskeys, six Japanese and 44 Scotch.
Scottish & Japanese whisky
At Fortnum & Mason, the store’s spirits and wine buyer Oscar Dodd says: “Scotland remains the holy grail.
“Although we have seen enormous growth in recent years from Japanese whisky, with American and Irish also experiencing new interest and growth.
“Of particular interest are Karuizawa, Yamazaki and Chichibu (Japan); Macallan, Highland Park and Daftmill (Scotland); and
Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses (USA).”
And for the whisky walls we can’t get enough of, Sexy Fish has the largest collection of Japanese whisky in the world, with more than 400 bottles and a beautiful display.
The Coburg Bar at The Connaught Hotel chooses to prominently display its whisky bottles on the back bar, with more
than 110 varieties.
Its menu is listed by cask finish rather than by where they are from and categories include single malt, sherry cask and spirit cask, with a menu that is constantly changing.
Fortnum & Mason is also in on the action.
“We have a dedicated ‘Still Room’ designed for displaying our fine and rare range. It is specially lit and allows us to securely display a broad selection of fine and rare spirits from across the world, with a focus on single malt whisky,” Dodd says.
Elsewhere, if walls aren’t your thing but whisky is, try the very special whisky trolley in The Emin Room at 34 Mayfair.
Private diners can enjoy unique, luxurious whiskies from around the world, served from a trolley. Try it neat, poured over a sculpted ice ball.
But the whisky wall trend isn’t over – and it may evolve even further.
“Whisky happens to be in vogue at the moment, but I have seen display walls of cognac, gin, rum and so on in private collections,” Murray says.
Where there’s a will – or a wall – there’s a way.
This article was originally published in the Mayfair Times.
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