Beer and Whisky: It Need Not Be Complicated

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Beer and Whisky: It Need Not Be Complicated

July Outturn 2024 Ambassador’s Address


I get the pleasure of hosting a lot of tastings, and many times they are to newcomers to either the SMWS, or to whisky in general. Often times they are to groups of people just starting on their journey of discovering the golden nectar. Often they’ve heard about the lovely flavours of whisky, or have seen Harvey Specter or James Bond or Jude Law or Christina Hendrix or Nick Offerman drinking it and are keen to learn more.

One of the first things I’m often talking about at these newcomer events is how whisky is, at its core, distilled beer. This usually creates a bit of shock. Is is really just beer that’s been through those magical copper stills?

Well… take out the hops part, and in a nutshell, yeah, it is! We then delve into how brandy is distilled wine, and rum is distilled molasses or cane etc. The amount of people who never really connect the dots on the grains or the base ingredient is quite astounding, but not really surprising.

It’s easy to lose track of the raw ingredients that go into making great whiskies: brands often spend vast amounts of time and money focusing on the end product, and for many that end result might be Harvey drinking Macallan, or Jude Law drinking Johnnie Walker, or Nick Offerman promoting Lagavulin. But it’s so much more than all of that. It’s the agricultural backbone. It’s the farmers that make it. It’s the time it takes in a coopered cask to get here.

This month, we’re celebrating that base malt. That wonderful barley that forms the basis of amazing beer that we can pair perfectly with a well-aged single malt. To that end, we’re doing a virtual with a tin, some beer giveaways throughout the month, and we’re pairing each new release with a suggest beer pairing to taste alongside it.

We’re also doing a member giveaway just by posting your favourite pairing of SMWS dram & ale further in… read on, and cheers!


This article is featured in July 2024 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 5th of July at midday AEST 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:

Adam Ioannidis is SMWS Australia's Marketing Coordinator and general appreciator of whisky, music and cinema.

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