Overview

Whether you’re after a bookish Irish whisky joint, or a pint-sized Yokocho-style Japanese dive bar, Melbourne is your dram. Check out our guide to the moodiest, classiest whisky bars in Melbourne, where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon session or a late night tipple. 

The Woods

 

A Chapel Street institution, The Woods stands out from Windsor’s traditional grunge-bar aesthetic. Where the rest of the strip is loud, The Woods is quite. Where others are brash and cool, it’s warm, sophisticated and old-school, just like a good whisky bar should be. It’s hard to think of a classier date night location south of the river.

 

The Elysian Whisky Bar

 

Brunswick and a hip whisky bar. Is there anything more Melbourne? If you have a whisky-obsessed friend flying in from out of town, it’s probably best to take them here. The Elysian popped up in 2016, and bats very, very deep when it comes to scotch. Some of their 300+ bottles are literally the last of their kind.

 

Beneath Driver Lane

 

Blink and you’ll miss this subterranean hole in the wall. In the best Melbourne tradition, Beneath Driver Lane is literally beneath Driver Lane, tucked down a forgotten laneway and set inside an old bank vault. At the bottom of some nondescript stairs you’ll find an incredible whisky bar, with blues on the jukebox and giant Reuben sandwiches flying off the pass.

 

Boilermaker House

 

Partial to beer? Enjoy the odd whisky? Boilermaker House in the CBD has got you covered. A boilermaker, if you weren’t aware, is a shot of whisky paired with a pint, and nobody does them better than this particular bar (the clue’s in the name). There are 850+ bottles on the wall here, and the staff know how to match each and every one.

 

Whisky and Alement

 

Whisky and Alement is closer to a whisky shrine than a whisky bar. There are actually two venues here: the eponymous one downstairs, and its quieter sibling, The Melbourne Whisky Room, up on the first floor. This is where you come for hard-to-find Scottish casks, or even something to take away (the venue has a rare, off-premise licence). One for the true whisky lovers.

1806

1806 is arguably more of a cocktail bar than a dedicated whisky room, but it earns its spot on this list thanks to one of the best collections in the city. Spend some time browsing the whisky menu, and throw in a cheese plate or charcuterie board while you’re at it. The guys also do a mean whisky tasting flight. Just ask the bartender to pick their favourites.

Eau De Vie

A renowned Melbourne cocktail bar with a whisky room hidden behind a bookcase. Need we say more? Eau de Vie took out a spot in Good Food Guide’s Top 50 Bars for 2022, as it tends to do every year. It’s one of the city’s definitive cocktail lounges, with friendly staff and gorgeous décor. You can even purchase your own private whisky locker, if that’s your thing. 

Whisky Den

Fell in love with Yokocho Alley on your recent trip to Tokyo? Whisky Den is Melbourne’s pint-sized equivalent (although the capacity here sits around 40, so by Yokocho standards this place is enormous). This is Melbourne’s best spot for a cosy, late-night tipple. Just pull up a seat and check out the hefty range of expressions. There’s a good mix from Japan, Ireland, Scotland and Australia.

Carwyn Cellars

Most visitors to Melbourne will never make it out to Thornbury, and they probably won’t know to look for Carwyn Cellars– a local favourite that’s been going strong since 2007. Carwyn was originally known for its beers (Broadsheet even called it the “best beer bar in Melbourne”) but it’s since expanded the collection. Whisky is now a mainstay, and you’ll find plenty of bottles to pique your interest.

Buck Mulligan’s

There’s a reason this place quickly became a local favourite, capturing the hearts, minds and stomachs of Northcote. Buck Mulligan's fuses Irish literature with Irish whiskey, and the result is so darn good you wonder why nobody tried it earlier. The bar doubles as a bookshop, so grab a glass of Jameson and settle down in the leafy courtyard with a copy of Ulysses. (Just do your best: it’s a long read.)

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