We give new Bristol whisky bar a shot

Rocking around the whisky tree

Picking your next dram from a long bar list can be, well, whisky business, but new Bristol venue Black Rock is here with a concept that’ll make it easy to pinpoint your ideal tipple (or three).

Co-founders Thomas Aske and Tristen Stephenson set out to create an extensive yet approachable stash of liquid gold and by dividing the large collection into six flavour profiles;  sweet, smoke, spice, fruity, fragrant and balanced. They hope to make it easier for those less familiar with whisky to find new favourites and look beyond brand names (we all do it).

The bar, a single cavernous room with ceilings high enough to house a tree (we’ll come back to this) adopts a minimalist look, with matte black walls and rows of long wooden benches. The relaxed vibe is a change from your dark speakeasy corners and punters are encouraged to explore the whisky cabinets themselves to find their next sips. 

Bottles are priced by a rather natty stickering system. Those with one sticker will get you a dram for £7, the two-sticker mid-range varieties are £9, and the premium three-stickered drams are priced at £11 a go, so there are no nasty surprises when the bill arrives. 

If straight-up whisky just ain’t your thang, each flavour categorisation has its own cocktail and highball drinks ranging from £7. We tried a refreshing whisky and ginger ale concoction that was sweet and moreish but let the whisky flavours come through. An ideal intro to the world of whisky. 

One of the aforementioned cocktails is contained in a part of a 216-year-old hollowed-out oak tree. Sitting inside the cavity is a drinks dispenser that actually contains oak panels so that over time, the cocktail inside will mature and change in flavour. Just like barrel ageing, but with more branches. It’s a bit of fun, and fits in with the ethos of the bar. 

Also available is changing selection of local craft beers on tap and in cans from breweries such as Moor Beer Co. Once fully up and running there’ll also be snacks on offer including fresh soda bread and haggis sausage rolls served with Black Rock brown sauce.

Co-founder Thomas Aske explains why after London, Bristol was the right location for Black Rock bar to branch out (sorry).

“We felt Bristol was absolutely the right place to expand our offering as it has one of the most progressive bar scenes in the country that we can’t wait to become a part of!”