40 Years Of SMWS

40 Years Of SMWS

January Outturn 2023 Article

2023…the journey continues, the flavour grows, the good times roll…


2022 was massive. A huge year for The Society, but a huge year for me personally. After 2020 and 2021 being all about the lockdowns, the virtuals, and bringing the dram to the home in a huge way, it was a real gear change for 2022 to be back in the ‘real world’ again. A year where we all nervously jumped back into the ‘real world’ with events, Champs, tastings, masterclasses, dinners, and more. It’s safe to say we really punched into gear with a bang this year in both diversity of offering and breadth of experience.


For 2023 we’re changing gears again. Always on the quest to improve the membership offering, but also really take the opportunity to tell our story. The story of Pip’s vision and how everyone who told him it “couldn’t be done, were so dull”. Some bloke from Boness had an epiphany. He was bored of mass-produced, indistinct whisky. After a serendipitous meeting with a farmer — he started a revolution. The rest is history. This is the story of adventure, the maverick spirit, the first cask in the boot of his Lagonda. Where it all began with some friends and a kindred spirit.

The Society thrives on a maverick spirit. Chasing a dream, breaking a few eggs, and building a community of flavour-obsessed whisky lovers. A global group born out of shaking things up, being ‘spirit heretics’ and believing whisky can be so much more than some supermarket-shelf, 40% ABV, mass-produced filler.

For 2023, that’s where we kick off. A jump into our past looking at how Pip Hills and his maverick mates put together a whisky club like no other. A whisky club that had distillers, blenders, and whisky companies scratching their heads asking “who on earth would ever want to drink whisky at cask strength, let alone a single cask?!”. 40 years later, still extolling the virtues of how every single cask of single cask whisky is an utterly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Still breaking the rules, still challenging the status quo, and still pushing new boundaries which we’ll be bringing to you every month this year.

In a nutshell: if you thought 2022 was a full return to form, you haven’t seen anything yet. Come for the ride, let’s break some eggs together and let’s have some fun. Cheers!


Matt Bailey

Branch Director, SMWS Australia


This article features in the January 2023 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 6th of January at midday AEDT exclusively to members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Not a member? Click here to learn more about the world’s most colourful whisky club.


About the Author:

Matt Bailey is the Branch Director for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia. He's tirelessly trying to meet every member and share a dram with you all.

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