Soho has many secrets but they’re getting more elaborate and sophisticated as time goes on. We’re moving past the taboos and getting to a place where we can stop all the nonsense and have a good time. Speakeasies? Done. Seedy hangout for gays? Come on, let’s all have fun. Wartime exile for the French? Fair enough, they can have that one.
But the newest hideaway is the Soho Whisky Club, hidden away in the upper floor of booze den The Vintage House on Old Compton Street. I wandered in and, looking amongst the various assortments of gins, vodkas and malt whiskies, I asked one of the members of staff about the Soho Whisky Club. He adopted a much lower tone of voice and motioned me towards a barely used door. With a wink, he opened it and invited me to walk through.
Leaving him behind as he slunk back into the shop, I clambered up the stairs to enter the club. It’s less of a club and more of an Aladdin’s cave of whisky. There are more than 300 whiskies, some of which are no longer commercially available. There is also a terrace upon which to enjoy cigars as well as the club’s produce.
I was here for a presentation on Tullamore Dew, an Irish whiskey coming close to 200 years old. The makers have not strayed far from a winning formula with the whisky being matured in oak barrels that have previously contained sherry or port.
The new 12 year-old from Tullamore contains some of the best aspects of Irish whiskey. Scottish whisky tends to be more rugged with a heaviness to it. Irish whiskey tends to be more smooth and a touch sweeter. This is not to say that it lacks character but as whisky expert John Quinn, presenting the whisky, pointed out ‘It’s just a different kind.’
The Soho Whisky Club is a great place to hang out and to learn about the different whiskies that it contains. There’s also the chance to learn about cigars in the masterclasses that are hosted.
The Vintage House
42 Old Compton Street