In part one, I recapped my my visit to Berlin in terms of the best places for tasting whisky in the city. In this part, I’ll share my impressions from some of the stores specializing whiskey in Berlin.
During my extended weekend in Berlin I visited four whisky shops which can be classified as the cheapest, the most specialized, the classiest and the jaw dropper. Each store has a link to their site in the first mention.
Big Market lies in southeastern Berlin, in the neighborhood is different from the Ku’damm district in which I was staying as can be. If the Ku’Damm is Fifth Avenue this store is in Harlem – but the neighborhood is in no way threatening. The bus stops right in front of the store, which is good because it was raining at the time. The store is in its own standalone structure is not hard to find.
As I mentioned in part one, there is a very well stacked tasting station in the store where you can either have a small dash to taste or purchase a whole dram to save. The store not only has a beautiful selection of mostly official bottlings, but also selection of miniatures – some of which are extremely rare – to choose from. Prices they were the best I saw in Berlin and while service isn’t the friendliest, this is definitely the place to stock up on official distillery bottlings in Berlin and the selection of those is outstanding.
This is also the place I discovered that not only bars but also many stores will not accept out-of-town credit cards so sadly I left the two bottles I wanted to buy behind.
The Most Specialized
Directly from Big Market, I proceeded to get on the wrong train and found myself way out in the suburbs and late for my next destination a tasting at Cadenhead’s Whisky Market. After the tasting, my impressions of which can be found in part one, I went shopping in the store, enjoying a 5% discount which was offered to all participants in the tasting.
As one would expect, the store specializes in Cadenhead’s expressions, while carrying a nice selection of official bottlings. Additionally, the store carries a wide selection of Cadenhead’s miniatures as well as Diageo 200 ml official bottlings. While this is not the cheapest place to buy your whiskey in Berlin, it’s much closer to the city center and they gladly accept out-of-town credit cards. I came out of that store with a nice selection of the newest Cadenhead’s miniatures to taste and review.
Whisky & Cigars is a beautiful shop set in the center of the tourist district close to Museum Island and the television tower. The store has a very high-end touch with a tasteful, though by no means extensive, selection of Scotch whisky and a very significant selection of world whiskys. They also hold regular tastings, though I wasn’t present for any.
The back part of the store is a tasting bar not reviewed in my tasting post because I didn’t taste anything there.
This is the most expensive place to shop for whiskey in Berlin, yet has its own high-end classy charm and is definitely worth a visit, especially for the The beautiful selection of special independent bottlings they carry. Also, this is the only shop I visited that issues Tax Free forms for a VAT refund if you’re taking the whisky out of the EU. In that case, this would be the cheapest place to shop, bar none!
The Jaw Dropper
I already wrote about the semi-tasting I had at Finest Whisky but as far as shopping goes, this is the place to come for stuff off the beaten path. If you’re looking for a Port Ellen, Linkwood, Caperdonich, Dallas Dhu or Brora this is the place to come.
Just to give you an idea, to celebrate their fourth birthday they battled a beautiful 45-year-old Tomintoul in their own limited edition. Just to give you another idea, they poured me the last of one of those bottles just to make my perusal of the store more enjoyable.
This is the place you’ll find a 40-year-old Bunnahabhain sitting next any rare expression you could think of. Those bottles are, obviously, priced accordingly but their prices on official bottlings and the more common independent expressions are very reasonable. Like everything else in Berlin the store is very accessible and is in a Soho like neighborhood with a very young and artsy feel to it. Despite the fact that I caught the guys in the store getting ready for a large tasting, they went out of their way to be helpful and offered me several tastings from their selection.
They also accept credit cards, and I walked out of there with a prized cask strength Sherry matured independent bottlings of a 14-year-old Laphroaig. My notes on that one, will obviously be posted in a One Quick Dram posting later this week.
Just plain supermarkets will sometimes carry a nice selection of single malts, like this supermarket tucked away in a train station I saw on my way to the airport. This attests, to me, that Berlin is, indeed, a great whisky town.
Berlin is a fabulous whisky destination, both for tasting and shopping. Some stores have some quirks, be it not opening on Monday or not accepting credit cards or not issuing tax free receipts. But all and all, you can find everything you’re looking for (and some you never thought of…), and at prices that are cheaper than both London and Tel Aviv. For your next whisky vacation, Berlin should definitely be on your list of contenders!