Best Whisky Bars in Toronto
Toronto has a history very closely tied to whisky. A big part of Torontonians have their roots either in Scotland or Ireland, the motherlands of whisky. However, it’s not only Irish and Scotch brands that we can enjoy in many Torontonian whisky bars. Canadian whisky is featured prominently, and holds a well-deserved spot on their menus.
Canadian whisky boasts a fascinating history, especially when we look back to the rum-running days between Canada and the U.S. during prohibition. Hiram Walker’s distillery in Windsor, Ontario, directly across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan, easily served bootleggers. Nowadays, we can enjoy a glass of the finest whisky brands and celebrate this tradition in one of these amazing whisky bars in Toronto.
The Feathers has a great British vibe to it. The interior looks like it’s been teleported right from the middle of London — and not just the interior. If you have family in England, the menu will look very familiar. Although the meals here are mostly not very healthy, the management's obviously trying to balance out the menu with some of the items on their daily menu that can catch the eye of more vegetable-loving customers as well.
The bar is a whisky haven. With live music in the background and 400 single malts on the menu, the Feathers offers a very cozy atmosphere to enjoy your glass of premium whisky. The best-value whisky they have to offer is definitely their house Signatory bottling Islay Cask Strength. If you're a fan of the highest-quality whisky, you'll be very pleased with their menu as well. The owner of the bar is really doing a great job getting his hands on some very rare stuff you can’t come across that easily. If you're a hardcore whisky fan, you should check the Feathers' special whisky collection bottle openings.
The Caledonian is the top Scottish bar in the city. Although it might sound like one of the countless theme bars Toronto has to offer, the owners decided they’d go another way. The Caledonian is a very classy and tastefully arranged place. The only problem is that it's almost constantly fully booked, and you need to make your reservation at least one day in advance to make sure you’ll get a table.
Their whisky menu consists primarily of Scottish malts. The Caledonian holds 150 different malts from the Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside Island, Campbelltown, and Islay regions. They have an amazing Ardbeg 10 year, which is a heavily peated Phenolic Islay Malt. The staff is very knowledgeable, and if you’re beginner whisky drinker, they can point you to the choices you'll like. The Caledonian’s bartenders can also mix some mean cocktails — their Ardbeg Caesar, Rusty Nail, and Auchy Toddy are to die for.
A mere two streets down from the Caledonian, you can find another great whisky bar. The Emmet Ray offers a huge selection of 184 whiskies from all over the world. It specializes in Canadian, U.S., Scotch, and Irish whiskies, but you can also try tastes from Japan, Sweden, India, Wales, and Australia.
The Emmet Ray has an amazing cook. The pub's simple but deliciously prepared food brings the place to a whole new level. You can even have a Scotch Fondue — very interesting taste. All the meat they serve is sourced from high-quality Ontario farms, completely free of added hormones, steroids, and antibiotics.
The Emmet Ray hosts several types of live gigs. Jazz bands, with occasional rockabilly, folk, and blues, are featured most nights; however, there are also DJs playing hip hop, mainly on Saturdays. Beware that the place is cash-only, a bit unusual, but the ATM is just downstairs from the bar. Which is a bit dangerous — especially with all that amazing whisky to taste.
Spirithouse doesn’t offer the best service in Toronto, but their whiskies are impeccable. Spirithouse is a signature bar of the Toronto Institute of Bartending, which means they know how to make a good whisky cocktail. Their bartenders experiment a lot — sometimes a bit too much — but that’s the only way to create something new and original, right?
Spirithouse has a very classy and old-timey vibe, with booths where you can enjoy whisky tasting with your friends uninterrupted. Spirithouse uses iPads to place orders, which signals that the place really tries to keep up with the hottest trends.
If you like Canadian whisky, Corby Distilleries’ re-released Lot 40, a whisky with a heavy touch of rye, will serve as a great starter for your adventure in Spirithouse's whisky menu.