Tuesday 10 March 2015

Bar Review #14: Campbelltoun Loch (Tokyo, Japan)

A few weeks ago we posted up the first bar review from our recent Japan trip, namely Zoetrope in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and talked about their incredible and well-priced range of Japanese whisky.

Well, what Zoetrope is to Japanese whisky, Campbelltoun Loch is to Scottish whisky.

Also located in Tokyo, Campbelltoun Loch re-defined my image of a "small bar". We all know Sydney has some great "small" bars, but they're palaces, mansions even, compared to Campbelltoun Loch. I'd almost bet there are a lot of Sydney bars with stockrooms larger Campbelltoun Loch. 

See for yourself (my back was against the front door taking this picture):

But size is hardly an indicator of a quality bar, and Campbelltoun Loch have done their best to fill every single inch of the bar with quality whisky - the overwhelming majority of it Scottish, with a good mixture of both Original and Independent bottlings.

While there may only be room for 8 patrons, the staff (that'd be Nakamura Nobuyuki, the sole guy behind the bar in the photo above), clearly passionate about Scotch whisky, makes sure everyone feels welcome, regardless of which of their 300+ open bottles they choose to dram from.

The atmosphere was jovial but refined, with subtle jazz tunes filling the room and a mostly older (but very friendly) crowd. A brief look at the shelf confirms that whilst Nakamura may have been running Campbelltoun Loch for "only" 16 years, his collection of whisky goes well beyond that...

As with a lot of the Japanese whisky bars we visited, there's no menu and with such a variety (and my not terribly good eyesight), it was hard to see everything that was on offer. Prices were reasonable, with a dram of Balvenie 15yo Single Barrel (the new Sherry one) selling for about $90HKD/$15AUD, and as with almost all the bars we visited, half-drams were available (have I made it clear yet that Japan really is whisky lovers heaven? Because It is...)

There's a reasonable amount of world whiskies, including a single Sullivans Cove (from Australia) and Teeling 21 (from Ireland), but Scotch is clearly the focus.

Campbelltoun Loch can be a little tricky to find (though the address details and photo below should help), but it's absolutely worth the trouble. Whisky fans could do worse than a few drams at the Park Hotel's SMWS Society bar (review up soon), followed by a few nightcaps here. Or vice versa.

Campbelltoun Loch, Tokyo
Address: 1-6-8 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku
Nearest station: Yurakucho or Hibiya (exit A4)


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