Everything You Need to Know About The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Bottle

It’s World Whisky Day today, Saturday 20th May 2023, and we have pulled together everything you need to know about the world’s most maverick whisky club: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS).

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 by a few friends in Edinburgh sharing single cask whisky and experiencing a flavour epiphany. Forty years on, SMWS is a worldwide whisky club with almost 40,000 members who treasure flavour and the joy of shared experiences with whisky in its purest form.

Founded by ‘Maverick-in-Chief’ Pip Hills, out of a sense of adventure, an endless discovery of whisky, friendship and fun.

What does SMWS do?

SMWS bottles rare single cask and single malt whisky, exclusive blends and a range of other Single Cask Spirits. The Society has bottled whisky from 180 distilleries from Scotland and beyond, offering a new batch of around 20 different single malt whiskies every month.

What is single cask whisky?

A single cask whisky must have been aged within a single cask, with no additional maturation. This means that the spirit inside has sourced all of its flavour from one original source of wood and that can pack a surprising variety of flavours versus blended whiskies (which are made to be standardised).

What are the SMWS flavour profiles?

The SMWS Tasting Panel has developed 12 unique whisky flavour profiles to help group whiskies into easily identifiable categories. Each represented by its own colour, from Young and Spritely to Old and Dignified; Light and Delicate to Heavily Peated. These 12 categories offer an alternative to the more traditional method of categorising whiskies by their region of origin (Islay, Speyside, and so on).

How are the SMWS tasting notes and bottle names chosen?

The SMWS outturn is an ever-changing collection of unique single malt whiskies, hand-picked by an expert Tasting Panel for their exceptional quality and intriguing character. The Tasting Panel chooses the bottle names that are most apt to each flavour, eye-catching and intriguing names to help stand out from the crowd, along with quirky and unusual tasting notes for each bottle, designed to provoke adventure and imagination.

What do the codes on the SMWS bottles mean?

The first part of the code represents the distillery, and the second part indicates the number of the cask bottled from the distillery.

What does SMWS membership cost and what do members get?

The Society offers a variety of membership options that can be tailored, starting from £85 a year. Members get exclusive access to SMWS whiskies and have access to four exclusive SMWS Members’ Rooms in Leith, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London along with a global network of 100 partner bars, partner bar discounts, colourful tasting events, whisky education and a monthly members magazine Unfiltered. For more information on The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, please visit: www.smws.com.

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