This intimate, clubby space just off Russell Street glows with an amber hue as the low lighting bounces off the 500 or more whisky bottles that are stacked behind the bar, locked in the glass cabinet on the wall, or sitting on the tables of punters as they compare and chat over a glass of grain. Seating is mainly barstools and bar food is limited, so it’s perfect for pairs or small groups on the hunt for a pre- or post-dinner dram.
The bar is a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, an international club that seeks out and bottles its own whiskies – strictly single malt, strictly single cask – and then shares it with its members. Whisky and Alement acts like your best mate with a club subscription he can’t keep on top of, and the bar offers the widest range of the Society’s limited-edition drops in the Southern Hemisphere that you can buy by the glass.
But if this is all sounding a bit pretentious, it’s not. This is a bar borne out of passion and one that wants to share the love of grain far and wide, not just to the whisky converts. So, if you order the blind tasting you will get an enthusiastic bartender plonk themselves onto a seat next to you and run you through each selection with knowledge and genuine excitement about what you have coming to you, from a peat-heavy Scottish masterpiece to a plucky upstart from Yackandandah. A chalkboard on the wall shouts out to the newest bottles on offer.
For the whisky-adjacent, they have a cocktail list with classics like a Whisky Sour – smoky and tart with the perfect topping of fluffy egg white – or a house Sazerac with rye, XO brandy and a dash of absinthe. Another palatable way in for those new to Scotland’s finest are the boilermakers (beer and a shot) with thoughtful pairings like the Burnt Out and Revived; a Dainton black IPA with an equally dark and stormy Glendronach 15-year-old whisky.
There is no peat-covered rock the Whisky and Alement team won’t overturn to find you the best drops in the world. You will be converted.