The world is filled with luxurious lodge bars with big-ticket whisky lists – lists created, all too usually, with a watch on the backside line, moderately than any actual coronary heart. So when one in every of my favorite whisky writers, World Atlas of Whisky creator Dave Broom, talked about he was engaged on a brand new lodge bar in Braemar, my ears pricked up. When he added that it was in gallerists Hauser & Wirth’s lodge The Fife Arms, and designed by Russell Sage, my ears pricked up much more: it gave the impression of a dream staff.And Bertie’s is a gem. Furnished in the model of a luxurious Edwardian library, and lined floor-to-ceiling with 365 back-lit whiskies that suffuse the room with an amber glow, this 15-seater lounge seems extra like a liquid set up than a bar – a spot to gap up on darkish nights when the Highland rain is lashing down outdoors.The whiskies at Bertie’s Bar at The Fife Arms, in Braemar
The actual theatre is in the bottles – all shut sufficient to the touch
The whisky checklist Broom has created is of course dominated by Scotland – however it options drams from throughout the world, grouped by model moderately than hometown, to make the entire factor extra navigable. “Doing it like this permits you to present commonalities and variations between completely different distilleries and areas and nations, and open up entire new conversations about whisky,” says Broom. “It’s not dumbing it down. Far from it – it truly takes you on a deeper dive.”In the “Fragrance” part, a meadow-y Linkwood 12yo (£9) from Speyside rubs shoulders with Hakushu 12yo, a cool inexperienced single malt from the Japanese Alps (£22.50); in “Fruity” a luscious wine-cask-aged malt from Starward in Australia is contrasted with a 17yo malt (£32.50) from Royal Lochnagar, a historic Highland distillery only a stone’s throw from the lodge.The bar options whiskies from round the world, in addition to rarities © Sim Canetty-ClarkeBroom has given uncommon prominence to grain whisky – extra usually the unsung hero of Scotch blends. “Grain whisky is commonly dismissed as the Scottish reply to vodka – however it may be completely scrumptious and filled with flavour,” he says, choosing out a Cambus 29yo (£26) that’s all “runny honey and baked banana”.The checklist is peppered with rarities from distilleries not in manufacturing: Littlemill, Rosebank, Mosstowie and the storied Islay distillery Port Ellen. But it additionally options younger drams from a few of the world’s latest producers: Cardrona in New Zealand and Torabhaig on Skye.
Signatory Vintage’s Glendullan Speyside Single Malt at Bertie’s © Sim Canetty-Clarke
Whisky glasses at Bertie’s bar at the Fire Arms Hotel © Sim Canetty-Clarke
Bertie’s is an actual vacation spot bar – but nearly half of the whiskies in it are priced at below £10 a dram: “It was actually necessary for me to have that aspect of affordability,” says Broom, “so that folks be at liberty to experiment.”The bar additionally does whisky cocktails and posh bar snacks and a quartet of whiskies matched with several types of caviar. But the actual theatre is in the bottles round you – all of them shut sufficient to the touch.
View of The Fife Arms Hotel © Sim Canetty-Clarke
Broom is working with The Fife Arms to curate a sequence of home whiskies too, in partnership with the indie bottler Adelphi. I ponder, given their creative connections, whether or not Hauser & Wirth may be planning a specifically commissioned label for them, à la Mouton Rothschild? “We have been speaking to our artists about creating one thing for Bertie’s,” says Iwan Wirth. “But it won’t be a label as I feel artist labels are passé. What we are doing is bottles as type of sculptures.” He received’t reveal extra, for now, besides that he hopes to have one thing to point out the world in about 12 months’ time. Just the excuse, if it had been wanted, to start out planning a return go to. @alicelascelles