Ben Franks: Spotlight on The Whisky Shop
Bath is surely becoming a destination venue for quality drinks shops. Not only do we have the wonderful chaps at Independent Spirit, the Tasting Room on Green Street and the multi-award winning Great Western Wine, but now we’ve got our own outlet of The Whisky Shop franchise.
It’s a pleasure to visit The Whisky Shop, which opened on the corner of Bath’s High Street by the Guildhall in mid-October last year. Not only are you greeted with a sea of stunning looking scotch bottles of all hues of copper brown and gold, but there’s a charming air of independence about it, despite it being a successful nationwide chain.
The manager, Tom Bazzard, who I met for a couple of tastings, was new to the company when he was put in charge of the Bath store back in October and said it was a ‘welcome surprise’ to be let free to do his own thing. Tom has the freedom to approach service how he likes, dress the shop his own way, and put in special requests like a recent delivery of exclusive casks where customers can pour their own whisky and bottle it themselves.
Naturally this has meant that Tom, and his colleague Vicky Woods who has been with him from the start, deeply care about the business and, inevitably, their passion for whisky is infectious. We tasted through some of the fruity Speyside whiskies to my favourite, smoky and peaty Islay single malts (you must try this Laphroaig Single Cask 13yo). It’s wonderful to see a business with so many products ready for you to taste and explore. The pair’s knowledge is also exceptional, so a visit to The Whisky Shop is a superb way to develop your own taste for whisky or pick the perfect gift for that whisky-loving friend.
The store in Bath has already received stellar reviews from customers, who call it ‘relaxed and inviting’ with ‘everything to suit everyone, from novice to connoisseur’. It’s sort of remarkable that just some time before Tom took over The Whisky Shop he had never even been in the whisky trade. Simply an enthusiast, Tom was invited to Scotland to train up and, while the Bath store was being renovated, even spent a month at The Whisky Shop’s famous London Piccadilly store, which sits right opposite the Ritz. In late November, The Whisky Shop’s launch was propelled by none other than the immensely packed Bath Christmas Market and sales have been ticking along nicely ever since.
So if you’re a whisky lover or know a friend who is, take a trip along to The Whisky Shop and explore a whole world of remarkable tipples in the hands of the experts. You can even enjoy bottling your very first single malt whisky. Not bad, eh?
I’m always on the look-out for new wine lists to try and I’m here to help any restaurant or pub who think their wine list needs a seasonal update. For more information or to get in touch about some more of my favourite wine & dine destinations, call Ben Franks Wine on +44(0)7545353147.
Images © Copyright Ben Franks Wine 2016