“This is my bar now.” These are words spoken by bartender Juanita Ward when we ask if bands will still play downstairs at the Grace Darling. That's not exactly a no – and make no mistake, the Grace upstairs remains as strong as ever on the live music front – but for the time being at least, Below Decks will be a dedicated whisky bar boasting a three page list of aged single malts and blends, and Ward doesn't want any grotty musos messing up her haunt.
She’s packing heat in the form of familiar Oban and Lagavulin whiskies as well as newer gear like the Elements of Islay range – blends that each showcase the range from one distillery in that boggy isle.
There’s Pilsner on tap and craft beers like Lord Nelson Three Sheets IPA if you like your dram with a brew, and you can get all your ’Sours and Manhattan cocktails too. But if you’re here, do it right, and only doctor your Glenmorangie with perhaps an ice cube or a dash of purified water. It’s table service, so both are delivered direct to your perch in a vintage ice bucket and small jug.
Ward’s knowledge of her stock could be stronger, but if you know what you’re looking for, or you’re willing to take a shot in the dark, the candlelit, stone-walled den with its red leather couches and scratchy soundtrack of jazz played on vinyl is perfect for a little clandestine whisky drinking.