1. Visit a whiskyshop
The Royal Mile, mainly a pedestrian street, leading from Holyrood palace at the bottom up to Edinburgh Castle at the top, hosts two of my favourite whiskyshops in Edinburgh.
Royal Mile Whiskies, about one third from the top is one of Scotlands leading speciality stores for whisky of all kind. The staff is well educated and the selection is very big. Especially considering the small size of the shop. It's a tight little shop, quite old. When a heavy guy like me moves around in the room, the floor is slightly dislocated and you can hear and see bottles moving one millimeter here, one millimeter there. If your wear a backpack, watch when you turn.
Further down The Royal Mile, about one third from bottom is another small excellent whisky shop, Cadenhead's Whisky Shop. Whiskyshops are speciality shops, but this is a speciality shop amongst speciality shops. Cadenhead's Whisky Shop mainly sells whisky from Springbank and the associated independent bottler Cadenhead's
The staff is extremely knowledgeable about whisky and if you want to bring a bottle of whisky home that noone tasted before they more or less only got bottles here that fits that description.
If I am in Edinburgh on a thursday, I always try to go to one of Jolly Toper's whiskytastings
They are usual on every 2nd thursday or so, but if I happen to be in Edinburgh on a "wrong" thrusday, I have before succeded in talking the host to schedule an extra tasting :-)
The host is also one the guys behind the counter of Cadenhead's but he serves all kinds of whisky, and often something unusual is on the agenda, it can exceptional rare, exceptional good or strange. The guests are always a good company and very opinionated about what they drink in the good way.
Kilderkin, the pub that hosts these tastings are also worth a visit. It has some of the best pub food in Edinburgh (I have tried), nice little selection of whisky (and rum) and a couple of good casks ales on tap
3. Visit the Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Their various bars around the world (some better than others...) They have a huge selection of their own bottlings, excellent food and good beer. A good place to try haggis in my opinion, it's delicious.
Their bottlings is not focused on distilleries but on their own, over the top, sometimes obscure tasting notes. I usually go in their bars and let everything else but distillery names decide what to drink, and often went away with a bottle that was a litle gem from an unknown distillery
4. Scotch Whisky Experience
Near the top of The Royal Mile, you find the Scotch Whisky Experience. This is a whisky experience made for the numerous tourists visiting Edinburgh, but it also got something to offer for the more experienced whiskydrinker
The place will take you through a fairy fun ride, sitting in a "barrel" and getting introduced to what scottish whisky is. After this there is sensory tasting session (various choices), The Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection, a collection of 3500 bottles on display, big fun for any whisky geek as there is many older bottlings. The place also have a bar and a restaurant.
5. A Pint
Edinburgh is an abundance of great pubs of all kinds. I am a big fan of scottish real ales and use time in Edinburgh on beers as well as whisky
I allready mentioned Kilderkin, but the list is almost endless and I am far from having visited everywhere. A random place seldom dissapoints me, but here is a few places I have been that are a bit different, and that I liked
Guildform Arms: Big selection of scottish real ales, well served, can be busy
Malt and Hops: Cosy little pub in Leith (near the SMWS Vaults) with a good selection of real ales
Bow Bar: real ales and whiskies, old fashioned speciality pub, with good selection
Whiski: huge selection of whisky, mainly OB, but if you want to try out the recent offering from Macallan, this is the place
Brew Dog: Modern Bar, serving modern style beers, mainly their own, and some great food
Next list will be: 5 distilleries worth visiting that you might not have thought of