Nutty, peaty, dignified—all words that can be used to describe whiskey, the “water of life.” First brewed by medieval monks in Ireland and Scotland, it’s now a drink made and enjoyed around the world with stiff competition for the best in the world with distinct differences in aging, composition, and spelling (with or without the “e”).
For the past seven years, September has been Bourbon Heritage Month in the U.S. The week-long Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardtown starts September 16, and Nashville’s Whiskey Festival is October 8–11. For those not in whiskey country, there’s Whisky Fest, a chance to try and learn about 300+ whiskies, October 3 in San Francisco and October 29 in New York. And for year-round whiskey enjoyment, stay at one of these nine hotels.
Courtesy Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Marriott Lousiville East, Louisville, KY
It’s fitting that a bourbon-inspired hotel would open in Louisville, home to distilleries like Evan Williams and the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery. The hotel lobby is kitted out in warm, red tones, evoking wax-dipped Maker’s Mark bottles, while in-room amenities include a book detailing the history of Kentucky bourbon. Stop by the Charr’d Bourbon Lounge to choose from 80 different varieties of the brown liquor.
Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland
This elegant hotel has views of Edinburgh Castle and plush rooms. But for whiskey lovers, the star of the show is the Scotch bar: There, you’ll find more than 400 selections of the namesake liquor, as well as Whiskey Ambassadors who can help you find the perfect tipple.
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Courtesy The Stanley
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
Although the Stanley is best known as the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining, it also has plenty to attract whiskey lovers. (Yes, even in beer-centric Colorado.) Its Whiskey Bar claims to have the largest selection of bourbon, scotch, and the like in the state; and in addition to serving the spirits neat or in cocktails, the bar offers whiskey-tasting sessions for guests.
Courtesy Griffin Gate Marriott
Griffin Gate Marriott, Lexington, KY
This resort features a golf course, steakhouse, and—most importantly for bourbon lovers—a luxe spa. The services include Bourbon Bubbler manicure and pedicure using a bourbon-infused brown sugar scrub; the hotel also offers a distillery package, where you can get a tour and tasting at Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of seven distilleries within 35 miles of Lexington.
Alain Le Garsmeur Lough Erne Book / Alamy
Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Located on its own peninsula, this resort offers guests an entry point to the gorgeous Northern Ireland countryside. Aficionados can book an Irish Whiskey Tasting Experience through the hotel’s Blaney Bar. They’ve partnered with Bushmills to give guests a chance to learn about the spirit and try different varieties, including a 10-year-old single-malt whiskey.
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Courtesy Cape Grace Hotel
Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
South African whiskeys have been ranked near the top in recent worldwide competitions, and the country’s largest selection can be found at this hotel’s Bascule Bar. There are more than 500 whiskeys from around the world on offer, and the bar offers beginner, intermediate, and sommelier’s choice tastings.
The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
There’s no shortage of things to do at this stately Scottish resort—activities include hot air balloon rides, golfing, and falconry lessons. But for those who are less outdoorsy, there are also whiskey master classes, located in the private cellars.
Courtesy Brooks Hotel
Brooks Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
This Dublin hotel offers guests a number of luxe amenities—including an on-site cinema—but for spirits fans, the whiskey tastings at the Jasmine Bar are a sure bet. Guests can sample five different drinks and learn about the history and creation of the liquor. If you’d prefer to just sip quietly after a long day of exploring, there are more than 100 whiskeys in the bar’s collection.
Courtesy Morgans New York
Morgans New York, New York, NY
This Madison Avenue hotel offers a very exclusive perk for guests: If you buy a bottle of one of the 120 varieties of whiskey at the hotel bar, and they’ll hold it for you in their vault. If you don’t want to shell out quite that much, you can sample one of the bar’s creative riffs on the Old Fashioned: you roll a set of dice to determine the base spirit (bourbon, rye, and Irish whiskey are among the options), the sweetener, and which type of bitters will be used. Drink up!
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