Short guide to Whisky Tasting in Amsterdam

Short guide to Whisky Tasting in Amsterdam

Go to the whisky tasting weekend on 17th January 2014
Visitors to Amsterdam with a penchant for whisky are, when you look at it superficially, somewhat at a disadvantage. There’s no real established whisky culture in Amsterdam in the way that you get in, for instance, Edinburgh. The comparison is ludicrous, I know, but it’s just to illustrate a point. That said, if you're a tourist staying in an Amsterdam Apartments flat you can still pretty much get any whisky you wish for. Simply head to the three best shops in Amsterdam for whisky, or make your way to the best bar to taste whisky.  

First for the shops. They are Ton Overmars at Hoofddorpplein, who has a beautiful range of whisky brands, and Boorsma in the Ferdinand Bolstraat. Ton Overmars has a beautiful range of whisky brands. Boorsma is comparable with Ton Overmars. Both attract the true whisky lovers. Way more central, and slap bang in the middle of the Red Light district, there’s McCarthy's on the Zeedijk, not far from the Centraal Station (the train station). This shop stocks a large range of whisky brands, but it’s targeting tourists and prices are steep.

In case these shops are not as close to the centre of town as you would wish, or you don’t like going to the Red Light district, there are of course the various Gall & Gall shops.This chain store can be compared to Bottoms Up in the UK and is found pretty much in every neighbourhood. It will stock a fair selection of malt whiskies. The largest Gall & Gall is just behind the Palace on Nieuwerzijds Voorburgwal. 

Those who want  to go for a spot of whisky tasting or just consume a few glasses of whisky, can find pretty much any type of malt in the centrally located Whiskycafé L&B which is situated just off the Leidseplein.  

The owner of this bar and a friend of his is in charge too of the whisky tasting event during 17, 18 and 19 January 2014 in the Posthoornkerk in the Haarlemmerstraat. This annual event is rather new, and sponsored by the main producers of malt whiskies. It grew out of its venue in the Whiskycafé  because it is rather popular.

Various whiskies are free to taste – the more expensive selections are reasonably priced. Organisers Loek Fransen and Léon Elshoff have close ties with the whisky branche, as Fransen is both brand ambassador of International Marques (the company behind big brands like Glenfiddich and The Balvenie) and a Keeper of the Quaich and Elshoff has been the long time proprietor of the Whiskycafé L&B which has a collection of over 1800 whiskies. 

The Keeper of the Quaich title is only bestowed on a select number of Scotch whisky promoters. The word ‘quaich’ derives from the Gaelic word for drinking bowl, ‘cuach’. It is a shallow bowl with handles on either side and is the symbol of the society. The prestigious keepers are appointed by none other than the society’s Grand Master, who is currently Diageo’s chief executive officer, Paul Walsh. When a person has become a Keeper of the Quaich, they not only will be able to tell you a thing or two about whisky, but they will also be able to lay on a party. 

So this whisky tasting weekend is definitely a must for whisky lovers! After the event, cigars are smoked in the cellar of the establishment.