Although people have been selling alcoholic drinks from these premises since the 1830s, technically Bennets is an Edwardian creation, opening in its current format around the same time as the King's Theatre next door. When you catch it on some quiet afternoon with sunlight streaming through the stained glass, the handsome wooden gantry covered in bottles and you have time to look around at the cornicing and carved wooden fittings, you could almost believe Edward VII was still on the throne. Its range of single malt whiskies is good and there are tutored whisky tastings here during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and at other times of year.
People from elsewhere in these islands who are used to wandering into a standard bar in a standard town and finding just two popular brands of single malt whisky on the gantry, faded and unloved, will be delighted by Edinburgh. There are a great many cocktail bars and quality pubs that have a fantastic selection of whiskies: dozens and dozens. In order to stand out in the Scottish capital however, it's not enough to have a few Speysides, a couple of Islays and a bottle of the latest grappa-finished, limited edition outturn from a boutique distillery run by two blokes called Jeremy and Rupert. For destination drinking you need hundreds of whiskies, a serious level of expertise behind the bar and – optional extra – an environment conducive to the attentive appreciation of what the Gaels call uisge beatha.