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Where to find good whisky in Wellington

May 18, 2017  ·  3 min read

words by niall roeder

The world of whisky is intriguing. The brown tipple’s culture is steeped in history and invites a range of connoisseurs, from hick moonshiners to cardigan wearing hipsters, Jack the Lad types and the more refined gentleman. Alligator char, corn squeezin’s, angel’s share, lantern fuel, fake tan, hooch – call it what you will – whisky doesn’t discriminate… because if you’re sipping the drink that’ll put hairs on your chest, you must be passionate about it.

That must be why it suits Wellington so much. From expert espressos to juicy burgers, crispy waffles and specialist craft beers, it’s plain to see that Wellington is passionate about certain culinary things – not just rugby. It’s a creative town of enthusiasts that attracts other enthusiasts. And that’s why whisky drinkers feel at home in Welly – there are plenty of places to sip something smoky, peaty, malty, spicy, harsh or hot.

We take a look at 4 of the best places to drink whisky in Wellington.

This place does whisky to a tee. Slick, understated design and just the right amount of dim, Ancestral confidently oozes style and grace, and the whisky list really is something. Prepare to scroll through six pages of carefully selected Japanese, American, Canadian, Scottish, Irish and Kiwi drops that are expertly listed from light and delicate to rich, smoky and peaty.

Tip – Nikka From The Barrel –Yoichi (cut flowers and fresh fruits, spice and a little oak. Winter spice, toffee, vanilla, caramel. full-bodied and punchy).

This Manners Street cocktaillery run by the Boon brothers is heralded as the best bar in Wellington by many a thirsty folk – there’s something in the air. Far from the clean cut stylings of Ancestral, Crumpet goes for the eclectic mismatch vibe and definitely pulls it off. Their whisky line up, albeit small, has been very carefully curated and the skilled bartenders will happily chat with you to work out which drop best suits you on that particular day, or if a freestyle whisky cocktail is more appropriate.

Tip – Chat to the bartender, swig their suggestion and smugly bathe in the ambience.

Hugo’s Whisky Lounge
With a speakeasy vibe, the dark and toasty Hugo’s is conveniently perched above The Establishment in Courtenay Place. One for the decisive drinker, Hugo’s boasts a list of over 150 whiskies, not including their whisky cocktails, all of which are contained in their big black bible (whisky menu).

Tip – Glenmorangie 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (pale gold colour with delicately peated cereals, subtle mandarin, grapefruit followed by a touch of spearmint).

This French inspired restaurant isn’t just a place to nibble, it’s a place to sit in a comfy chair, sip a fine drop, chat about worldy topics (whether or not you’re informed) and, of course, people watch. The whisky menu includes brown gold from Scotland, Ireland, France, Canada, Wales, Taiwan, Japan and New Zealand and is categorically broken down into blends, malts, whiskies from Islay and the Islands, Speyside Scotch, Highlands and Lowlands Scotch, bourbons and rye. They go deep.

Tip – Kavalan “Solist” Sherry Taiwanese Whisky (don’t question it, just try it).

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