There are dozens of beer pumps lined up, a wall of backlit whisky; in the corner a tantalizing walk-in humidor stocked with fine Cuban and New World smokes. This is my sort of place. CASC – which stands for Cigars, Ale, Scotch and Coffee – is in Aberdeen, Scotland. Perhaps not the first place that springs to mind when thinking of a funky brew bar. But this is something special. With about two dozen ales on tap – Belgian brews, micro US specials, strong and mild beers, stout, and more – you can also choose from a bewildering array of small batch, singleorigin coffee, served in a number of ways. The “pour over” is the coffee service du jour at the moment, it seems, and it’s theater to watch a mini-Bunsen burner underneath a bulbous glass flask and the gentle process of heating and dripping through the coffee.
The bar, run by Paul West and his father, comes alive in the evening, and once you’ve had a glass of beer or two, it’s impossible not to dip into the selection of whiskies: silent distilleries, special editions, unique cask finishes, and hard-to-find Scotch malts. With your large dram, choose your weapon from the humidor: Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, Padrón or Cuba’s Partagás, Cohiba or Hoyo de Monterrey. Under the covered, heated terrace you’re in heaven. The Scots are friendly and love nothing more than a chat. You’re sure to make new friends. And it’ll soon be time for a top-up.