Ask anyone where the quirkiest spot in London is and you’re bound to hear Shoreditch. From graffiti-splattered streets to a bagel shop so famous that it demands a queue, there’s a little bit of everything here. And now? EC2 is home to the city’s first-ever whisky hotel. Award-winning drinks? Check. Tokyo-inspired rooms? You bet. The chance to blend your own whisky? I’m on it.
Straddling the space between the hipster-centric Great Eastern Street and suit-heavy Liverpool Street, Black Rock is something of an east London gem. You'll find actual hotel rooms, while the basement serves up game-changing sips and the Tavern above leans towards beers and highballs. But on our Friday night visit, we were here to experience the blending room.
Self-described as the "first permanent whisky experience of its kind in the world," the Black Rock Blending Suite has taken over the room that once housed The Devil’s Darling. Now though, it’s all about whisky education, with the chance to make your own bottle.. and boy, was I ready to immerse myself in all things alcohol.
Settling into the intimate space with a tall welcome drink of whisky, blueberry liqueur and ginger ale, we were taken on a journey around the world of whisky. From its history through to stages of production, it was right down to the nitty-gritty. Not one for a powerpoint presentation after a long week at work, I must admit that I was beginning to zone out. But then? It was time for tastings.
In preparation for the task ahead, we were given 5 kinds of whisky to taste. Starting off with David Beckham’s Haig Club – representing the sweet notes – and moving onto fragrant, fruity, smoky and spicy, we really got the chance to pinpoint our favourite flavours. I was less than surprised to discover my tastebuds went for sweet and spicy... though with so many bottles to choose from, pinpointing my blend could be tricky.
Working our way through the collection of whiskies, we got to mixing. From pipettes and beakers to flasks and funnels, it was all hands on deck. I’m not quite sure that the measuring cylinder was totally necessary – but who was I to pass up the chance at reliving my school science lab days? All that I needed now was a lab coat and goggles. Bunsen burner, not so much.
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There’s no denying that any whisky fan will enjoy an evening spent at the Black Rock Blending Suite. With knowledgeable bartenders who can answer literally any question you have, and the opportunity to create your own unique bottle, this is the perfect gift; whether that’s for someone else, or you just need to treat yo’ self. And when that’s all done? Head downstairs for a dram or two… with multiple bars in this mega space, it would be rude not to.
The Black Rock Blending Suite takes bookings for groups of 2 to 20, with prices from £70 per person.