Alba at Silverleaf launches Whisky Tastings

Alba – an intimate, separate bar in Silverleaf at Pan Pacific London – launches whisky tastings with Simo Simpson and Chris Tanner.

Everyone loves a hidden bar. They bring with them a sense of excitement and give those who know of their covert ways the feeling of being in an exclusive club with a treasured secret. However, when that hidden bar is located within the gorgeous cocktail destination that is Silverleaf (read our full review here), itself housed in Pan Pacific London, that titillation reaches near dizzying heights.

Alba is the name of this delightful nesting doll of a bar, and spirit tastings is its game. Designed for a more intimate drinks experience, this dimly lit and atmospheric jewel boasts its own backbar and can accommodate up to 12 guests. 

Alba Whisky Tastings – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Simo x Chris x Tom Dixon glass, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 1000px

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Silverleaf’s own Martyn “Simo” Simpson and Chris Tanner will expertly guide guests through a flight of five whiskies, giving them a chance to explore different flavour profiles, regions, ages, cask influences, and more, in a welcoming and unpretentious environment – something that both Simo and Chris feel very strongly about creating and upholding. Brand specific tastings will also take place on Wednesdays, giving imbibers the opportunity to deep-dive into old favourites and discover new loves.

Simo says,

“Everything here is all about tastes and palates. All we want to do is get across a flavour and teach [guests] some facts about how it’s made and why it’s made, casks etcetera. Just enough to help you navigate the back-bar, because when you walk into a bar and there’s 300 whiskies, it can be a bit daunting .The idea of what we’re trying to do is help you be able to go ‘You know what, I liked a Scottish whisky that was in a wine cask at that Alba tasting – what have you got that’s like that that I can try?’”

Chris adds, “The reality is that whisky is there to be drunk and to be enjoyed. Being able to share with people and have everyone in the room join a conversation about something that they’ve enjoyed is the best thing.”

  • Chris “I love reflux” Tanner nerding out: "Loves the concept of reflux in distillation as one of the greatest variables that any distillery has to play around with."
  • Simo with the tasting glass he and Chris designed for Tom Dixon

Individual spaces on tastings can be booked for £50 on Tuesdays and £80 on Thursdays (the more premium offering), with brand tastings varying in price. Alba can also be booked out for private tastings with friends or colleagues, with bespoke tastings available to suit all budgets and proclivities.

Tastings at Alba are perfect for those who are completely new to the category, as well as those wanting to nerd out about production techniques, and everyone in between. Unlike many whisky tastings, there’s no expectation or judgement, and both Simo and Chris are masters of making people of all levels of understanding feel comfortable and happy.

Alba Whisky Tasting Review – What to expect

Each tasting will be different, giving returning guests the chance to try new drams. We were lucky enough to pop by Alba for a tasting and were treated to the below.

Compass Box Orchard House

46% ABV

Compass Box Orchard House_Alba, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 800px

A brilliantly fruit-forward blended malt from those talented Compass Box folks. Featuring whiskies from the likes of Clynelish, Linkwood, Benrinnes, and more, this expression offers up oodles of lip-smacking fruit notes, making for an astonishing dram.


Red apples, tart green apples, juicy pears, cereal notes, hay, white acacia honey, pear drops, boiled sweets, pomelo, juicy fruit, green Starbursts, vanilla, poached pears.


Gorgeous orchard fruits with lovely grainy cereal character, red grapes, white grapes, oaty biscuits. Lovely easy body with delightful toasty notes and light citrus.


£43.94 at Master of Malt. Buy it here.

Nikka’s Single Malt Miyagikyo

45% ABV

Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt_Alba, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 1000px.jpg

Simo imparts his “favourite story in whisky” about Nikka‘s founder Masataka Taketsuru. Masataka was in Scotland at the turn of the 19th century. Rumour has it he was teaching martial arts there when a gentleman introduced him to his sister, Rita, and they fell in love. He was from a family of sake makers and Rita introduced him to whisky, took him round to distilleries where he started taking incredibly detailed notes: barley length, weather patterns, thickness of copper in the stills etc. It’s rumoured that he was over there as industrial espionage, being sponsored to learn about whisky in order to come back to Japan and make whisky there. He picked the areas in Japan to mimic Speyside and Skye in Scotland, and set about creating whisky with Nikka.

This whisky is them starting to have a bit of fun with casks as it’s a mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks. “I love this whisky,” Simo states. “If Scotland is centuries and centuries of putting it in a cask and checking it every year, this is almost like reverse engineering from an end product and figuring out how to get there. That’s what Masataka did – he brought the art of the craft from Scotland to Japan.”


A beautifully full and rich nose. Cacao butter, cacao nibs, spent coffee grounds, florals, lemon zest, prunes, dried fruit, deep dark honey, something saline, earthiness, dark cherries, brown butter, green apple, banana, liquorice, and ash.


Salinity and savoury notes come through with lovely grain character, briny olive, cacao nibs, raisins, prunes, orange oils, raisins, figs. Tobacco leaf and baking spices combine with desiccated coconut, stewed fruits, and cardamom. This is a winner for us!


£75.90 at Master of Malt. Buy it here.

Deanston 17-Year-Old 2002 Pinot Noir

50% ABV

Deanston_Alba, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 1000px.jpg

The team at Deanston got their hands on some Pinot Noir casks and used them to mature some whisky for the first time! This expression is a limited edition 17-year-old single malt, which enjoyed a finishing period in the aforementioned Pinot Noir casks.


A bit of grain on the nose. Bourbon and Pinot noir cask mix. Vanilla, cinnamon, red berries, blackcurrant, blackcurrant lozenges, a touch of menthol, red cherry juice, blackcurrant leaf, and oak spice.


The aromas from the nose all translates onto the palate with so much yummy Pinot character. Lovely cherries and berries, plums, and sultanas come forward with shortbread and cinnamon. The body is gorgeous and there’s something dirty going on (in a good way – perhaps due to the short stills and condenser at Deanston). Tannins linger on the finish to complete a tasty dram. 


Sadly sold out most places but you can still enjoy a dram of the good stuff at Alba.

Weller Wheated 12-Year-Old Bourbon

45% ABV

Weller_Alba, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 1000px

A sweet, creamy wheated whiskey produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery – the longest running continuously distilling distillery in the States (as they were “medical” distilling during Prohibition). 


Super sweet corn on the nose with floral notes and spice. Wheat and a light medicinal note.


 Dry spice and perfume comes through with creamy wheat. A lot of pepper and white oak. 


£42.95 at Master of Malt. Buy it here.

Port Askaig 100° Proof

57.1% ABV

Askaig_Alba, Silverleaf, ©SatedOnline 1000px

100° Proof is a punchy Islay single malt from Port Askaig. With notes of sweet fruit, peat smoke and minerality, this is a benchmark Islay whisky and a great everyday peaty dram at this price.

Chris opens up the “Terroir in spirits” debate up and divides the room whilst giving some great insight and information: “Peat is not unique to Islay. It is made from fossilised soil – what that ground has been for thousands or millions of years. If you’re on the mainland, that’s going to be made up of heather, gorse, ferns. If you’re on the coast, that’s going to be crustaceans, shells, and algae […] I think it’s something that’s really fascinating as I think you can tell the difference.”


Amazing chocolate and barley husk nose. Glorious warm and grainy character on the nose. Meaty peat smoke is there but well integrated with honey, citrus oils, salinity, flintiness, and cereal notes.


Lovely peat. Warming, thickly honeyed and seductive. Cereal, honey porridge, phenols, green bananas, salinity, flint, minerality, cinnamon, and liquorice. 


£56.45 at Master of Malt. Buy it here.

Book your Alba Whisky Tasting spaces

Individual spaces on tastings can be booked for £50 on Tuesdays and £80 on Thursdays (the more premium offering), with brand tastings varying in price. Alba can also be booked out for private tastings with friends or colleagues, with bespoke tastings available to suit all budgets and proclivities.