Hidden Gems II – Campbelltoun Loch

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When I posted earlier I was going off of my memory and didn’t realize that I was spelling the name of the bar incorrectly. It is spelled: Campbelltoun Loch. I have made the correction to my previous post.

Earlier I mentioned the multitude of bars both on the street level and the many floors above, but I forgot to mention all of those bars that are down below street level. Campbelltoun Loch is one such subterranean bars and I would probably have walked right past it if I wasn’t specifically looking for it. Campbelltoun Loch is tended by the very knowledgable and friendly Noboyuki Nakamura. There is a plain white sign with black lettering on the street level with a small winding staircase that brings you down to the front door. Once you slide open the door you realize that space is definitely at a premium and most of that premium space is dedicated to whisky bottles instead of customer seating. There are only about 10 small stools and it is probably easier to wait outside to let people out before trying to get in – that is how narrow the seating is.

As soon as I walked in though I knew it was my kind of place. Low key, quiet and enough whisky on the shelf (and on the bar top) to keep you busy for hours if you tried to read all of the labels. Campbelltoun Loch has an always changing selection of about 250 bottles. What I found most impressive was their selection of malts from the 70’s and 80’s – it was like an antique whisky library.

With this type of selection, no menu and no prices listed I was worried about how much of a hit my wallet was going to be taking. But when would I get the chance to try distillery releases from 30 years ago? Luckily, the pricing wasn’t too bad and you could order half-pours. Because there are so many bottles available it is easier to ask for a particular distillery, flavor profile or region and Nakamura San will happily bring you a couple of bottles to choose from.

In February I tried four different malts: a distillery release from the now silent Dallas Dhu, an 80’s distillery release Springbank, an 80’s distillery release Mortlach and a fun ’78 Samaroli Sherried Talisker. It was a real treat to try the distillery releases and taste what whisky was like from a different era. It was like drinking liquid history.

I enjoyed Campbelltoun Loch so much that on my latest trip to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago I chose to forgo trying to discover a new bar and went back. As expected there were a lot of changes to the whiskies available. This time I tried 24 y/o Brora, ’68 Glendronach that was specially bottled for ANA airlines, 25 y/o OMC Talisker, ’79 single cask peated BenRiach, 80’s distillery release Lagavulin 12, Barman’s Collection Caol Ila 30 bottled by BBR specially for Campbelltoun Loch. It was another fun tasting adventure this trip, making it inevitable that I will be stopping for some drams here again on my next visit.

Campbelltoun Loch is open M – F 6pm – 4am, Sat – Sun 6pm – 11:30pm, located at 1-6-8 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-Ku. The nearest stations are Yurakucho and Hibiya (Exit A4).

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5 Comments

Filed under Imbibed Musings

5 responses to “Hidden Gems II – Campbelltoun Loch

  1. James

    Chris, I’m assuming he speaks English–do most barkeeps/owners?

    • James – Actually I’m not sure – I am thinking probably not. The great thing about whisky is that it is pretty universal and you can get past any language barriers pretty easily. Distillery names are also easily recognizable.

  2. Chris great introduction. Did the bar have any special Japanese whiskies out of curiosity? The 78 Talisker, wow, would love to consume that. Nice entry, and please do sing out if your my way.

  3. Chris

    Thanks for the comment Clint. They did have a few Yoichi vintage releases, Ichiro Card series and some Number One Drinks Karuizawas. The focus Is definitely on Scotch Whisky though. I’ll probably be back out there next August but I just don’t get down to Kansai unfortunately.

    • Thanks for the reply Chris, I guess being a predominant Scotch bar there wouldn’t be so much emphasis on Japanese whisky. The Karuizawa’s are interesting to know about. Maybe one day, and if the timing is right perhaps a dram in Tokyo then. Thanks.

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