Amilal – another great whisky hangout in Gulou

23rdNov. × ’10

More evidence that whisky is not all about high-end bars and expensive prices.

Tonight I went back to the area around Beijing’s Nanluoguxiang to re-visit a bar introduced to me by Tom O’Malley (have a read of his great article about the dark side of Beijing dining).

Amilal is tucked away down a tiny hutong, hardly wide enough for two people to walk down side by side. It’s safe to say that unless someone takes you there, you would never find it by yourself. The entrance is through a double wooden door through which a small courtyard reveals itself. The bar itself is in the rooms that lead off the courtyard and the decor and lighting make the place feel like that hutong home you always wanted but never found – furniture is mismatched, the shelves are stacked with books and the walls are hung with photographs taken by the owner, Aluss. Aluss is from Inner Mongolia and has been in Beijing for many years, finally opening Amilal two years ago, to provide a space for his friends to hang out.

Amilal Whisky Beijing China Single Malt

Aside from a wicked beer selection, Aluss has a few shelves stacked full of scotch that are steadily growing in number. He’s a huge fan of the peat, hence most of Islay is represented (including my favourite Bruichladdich), and he also has some odd blends that have come in via Japan. I drank my first glass of Tavalan there – Taiwan’s only single malt. Easy on the palate for sure. Aluss has also taken the bold (and perhaps dubious business decision) to price all his whiskys the same – 50rmb a glass. So a shot of Chivas is the same as the 16yo Laphroiag. Keeps the maths simple for him and encourages customers to explore the menu!

Anyway, for maps and more check out the Beijinger’s page.

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