18 May 2024
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Whisky Capitals: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful city with a host of fantastic bars to choose from. It’s also no slouch for whisky fans, either, and plays host to plenty of choices for dram fanatics to spend time getting lost in.

We spoke to Daniel Watts, proprietor of J.D. William’s Whisky Bar, one of the city’s finest examples. Its unassuming flat facia sits flush among the quaint cafes and fashion boutiques of lovely Prinsenstraat, but inside awaits a vast selection for whisky buffs.

Where are the best places to have a dram?

There have been a few more places that have popped up in Amsterdam recently. These additions serve more than the expected five to seven different whiskies you typically see on the shelves at ordinary bars. But for knowledge, expertise, assortment and 100% specialisation in whisky there are only two places: J.D. William’s Whisky Bar and Whisky Cafe L&B.

Where would you enjoy a whisky cocktail?

I’m quite particular where I drink my whisky cocktails. There are many bars that have whisky cocktails on their menus, but miss the boat on flavour. For the best and most unique whisky cocktails I go to Hiding in Plain Sight (HPS), Door 74 and Tales & Spirits.

Where would you go to dram and dine?

Great question! The food bar standard has been raised in Amsterdam in the last two to three years, which is fantastic for everyone. The only place that does whisky-inspired food, however, is my place. We use whisky in many of the Asian fusion dishes we make and also many of the sauces. For example, bourbon-glazed pork ribs and tempeh Vietnamese spring rolls soaked in Talisker single malt. We also do whisky and food pairings for many of our guests.

What about a local tipple? Are there any distilleries in Amsterdam?

Not in Amsterdam. The only two whisky distilleries in the Netherlands are in Zuidam, which produces Millstone, and in Friesland Province, which produces Frysk Hynder. Both are excellent producers.

Where would you shop for whisky?

In Amsterdam there are two fantastic shops that I go to and recommend to people: Slijterij Boorsma and Ton Overmars.

Where to find a whisky hidden gem?

I’ve heard about a cool whisky shop called Liquid Gold in Haarlem, which is about 20 minutes from Amsterdam. It’s a little shop with an enormous selection of whiskies from all over the world. I want to check it out next time I am there.

And if you’ve only got 24 hours in the city?

The good thing about Amsterdam is that you can see a lot in 24 hours! For my whisky fix I’d definitely visit J.D. William’s Whisky Bar for a couple drams, a whisky cocktail and some amazing food! I would also go to Whisky Cafe L&B as the owner is a collector and has some extremely rare whiskies in stock. Another must-see is Hiding in Plain sight for some modern & unique takes on classic whisky cocktails, courtesy of the owner Guillermo. I’d also have to fit in Door 74 as it was really the first cocktail bar in Amsterdam. I think after visiting these four places I’d be ready for some sleep!