Black Rock | 9 Christopher Street
Whisky started off being a drink too strong and too spicy given I had always been a wine/cocktail person, but it was not long before I grew a passion for everything Highland and everything sherry-/PX-cask. I also enjoy going to speakeasy-s, often with the cosy ambience for a relaxing chat with friends and with friendly staff with whom to chat whisky or indeed anything.
Tucked away among the streets near Liverpool Street Station (and within a 5-minute walk from where I stay in London), Black Rock is a basement bar that has it all, the ambience, the secrecy, the friendly staff and – the interesting whisky collection. The dim lights and everything being jet black add to the mystique vibe of the bar.
I went on a weekday night and there aren’t many people (comparing this to the pub scene in London…). Just the ideal atmosphere to chill out with a good dram.
THEY AGE THEIR OWN WHISKY – it’s pretty cool.
I originally thought Black Rock was another whisky speakeasy with another great whisky collection, but the gimmick of this place comes from a large table, looking humble and solid, in the middle of the bar. It is made of 185-year-old oak, and is ingeniously transformed into two “in-built barrels” for its in-house whisky-ageing and blending system.
Within the two glass-topped canals, the one lined with charred European oak held the bar’s house-blend “table whisky”, and the one lined with American oak held the fruity whisky cocktail “Cherry River”.
To the side of the oak table are three glass cabinets with the words “smoky”, “fragrance”, “balance”, “sweet”, etc. and which house bottles and bottles of whisky from around the world. Each bottle has dots stuck on it, indicating its price (it’s £7, £9 or £11 for 35mL). A dram of Balvenie Double Wood costs £7 – this sets the baseline to assess the price range, which I think is quite the right price.
I stopped in front of the “sweet” cabinet. There is less scotch in the “sweet” section, but a number of bottles from places that you won’t normally get whisky from – Germany and the Netherlands as an example.
Rye, bourbon, morello with spices | £6 for 35mL
I told the barman that I have a sweet tooth, and he recommended that I should try the Cherry River. It is a good recommendation – bright fruitiness from cherries, pronounced vanilla from American oak, and of course, sweet spice and toffee-like sweetness of Rye. I expected to have a whisky night, so this whisky-cocktail drink is slightly light. It is nonetheless a good drink to start off with.
Dalmore 15 years old | £9 for 35mL
Let’s have some scotch as a second drink! Very balanced, soft and smooth. Dried fruit and raisin sweetness. I like it 🙂
There is heaps of stuff from the cabinet I want to try out – until next time!