Whisky probably isn’t the first beverage you associate with Rome. If it made your top 10 I’d be surprised! But for years there has been a small but active community of whisky lovers in the Italian capital dedicated to promoting the spirit in its various incarnations. I first encountered this culture at the old Emporio del Gusto on Via Chiabrera near the Basilica of San Paolo. The shop has since changed concept, but back then, owner Pino Perrone stocked an enviable collection of prestigious single malt–and single cask–whiskies, which drew aficionados from all over the city (though most customers never touched the stuff, preferring Pino’s selections of cheeses, pastas, and other gourmet products).
While dreaming of opening a dedicated whisky shop, Pino and a group of friends launched the Spirit of Scotland Whisky Festival, now in its fifth year. The two-day festival, which will be held March 5 and 6 at the Salone Delle Fontane (Via Ciro il Grande 10-12 in EUR), has improved with each edition and this year’s program promises to be the best yet, particularly for cocktail drinkers who may attend seminars by whisky-loving mixologist from across Europe. The world’s top whisky makers will be in the house, as well as sector leaders teaching a range of seminars.
If you’re in town, be sure to snag tickets here. And if you’re not, you can still indulge your thirst for whisky when you come to Rome. Pino ended up opening that dream shop, the very awesome Whisky & Co. at Via Margutta 28/29 near the Spanish Steps.