Friday 26 April 2013

Bar review #4: Whisky+Alement (Melbourne)

A few years ago Steph and I visited a great little whisky bar in Melbourne called Chez Regine. I remember them having a great selection and very reasonable prices, but the decor was a bit awkward and the place felt like it could use a refresh. So when I saw on Twitter that they were re-opening as Whisky+Alement, including a doubling of their whiskies (from 200 to well over 400), I knew another visit was in order.

Unfortunately, despite usually being in Melbourne at least once a month for work, I didn't have any trips to Melbourne until just last week. I was only there for a night, and didn't finish work until pretty late, but given W+A stays open until 1am mid-week, I had to drop by for a dram or 3...

It might've been past midnight on a Tuesday, but the bar was still lively and the staff friendly and more than happy to chat all things whisky. We talked a bit about my #101drams charitable challenge and how they had an impressive number of drams on my list (I managed to tick off two - the Glenfarclas Movember Edition and Balcones Baby Blue - posts to follow).

The whisky menu is a well laid-out global tour, covering not just the usuals (Scotland, US, Japan etc..) but plenty of representation from Australia, Europe, Asia and NZ. The bar is also an official SMWS bar, and have their own 20L cask maturing an ever-changing but unnamed Islay whisky (for a very reasonable $14 non-member price).

In fact, the entire menu was reasonably priced, with plenty of whiskies for $8.50 to $10, and plenty of excellent whiskies for under $15. A great chance to try that special whisky you've been wanting to try (heck, I have 101 of them!) but haven't wanted to shell out $100+ on a bottle for. There's also a well thought-out boilermaker list (such as the ANZAC special Starward + Epic Pale Ale) and a small but tasty cocktail list, including cocktails from World Class finalist (and bar manager) Evelyn. You can even buy a selection of take-home bottles (including some SMWS bottlings).

The decor is polished concrete, leather and wood, and fits the small intimate space perfectly. A huge improvement over the previous incarnation. Most importantly, the barstools (the only place to sit unless in a big group in my opinion!) were comfortable and could easily stand up to a night of dramming.

Whisky+Alement is at 270 Russell St, Melbourne and opens from 5pm-1am (Tues-Thurs), 4pm-3am (Fri) and 7pm-1am (Sat). I'll definitely be back, again and again (hopefully a future trip will coincide with one of their tasting classes too).

 - Martin.

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