Being ‘independent’, in any field, is a funny term the more I think about it. It’s something that always truly excites me through both opportunity and innovation for product. In this case, great spirits.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is at it’s core the world’s biggest whisky club. An international community of like-minded whisky lovers who have at one point tasted a Society single cask release and had that ‘eye opening’ moment I vividly remember of my own, and said “who do I have to kill to get more of this?!”. Thankfully getting more of what we bottle doesn’t require any killing, just a membership which gives you access to the world’s widest selection of distilleries and flavours on earth.
Why would I mention this? Because while we’re a whisky club first and foremost, we’re also an independent bottler. Being an independent bottler, in our case, we select and bottle the best casks from a range of distilleries around the world, which is the basis of our involvement at the fantastic Independent’s Day spirits festival in Melbourne last Saturday. This one-day, two-session event saw the widest range of independent bottlers in Australia converge with a barrel each to present from, and talk to whisky lovers, and taste incredible spirits from the likes of Signatory, Michel Couvreur, La Maison du Whisky, Heartwood, New World Projects, Hyde, Rest & Be Thankful, Adelphi, Berry Bros & Rudd, Cadenheads, Gordon & Macphail, and of course the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
What is immediately encouraging to see is the fervour and passion our members have at these events: at the first session a rush of members immediately paced to the back of the venue where we were situated, to try our casks first. On pour we had the 36.96 ‘Chocolate Cake Cookie’, 93.68 ‘Clean as a whistle’, 71.41 ‘Curious and intriguing’, 3.256 ‘Hebridean holiday tingle’ and a special little preview of C1 our first ever Cognac ‘Nectar Celeste’ being released this Friday 5th August in Outturn which you can read about here.
What Independent’s Day has created for its inaugural year is whisky and spirits festival unlike any other in Australia. A focus on the indies that create an atmosphere for discerning palates and those, like myself, that are on the always evolving ride of discovering new flavours from our casks. One thing that I kept talking to members and attendees of the festival about was the lengths we at the Society go to for cask curation and ensuring what we bottle for our members is truly what I believe to be the best single casks in the world. This is of course subjective, but the more and more I’ve learnt since joining the SMWS as national ambassador in our cask selection process, has given me a whole new perspective and global effort that goes into procuring and securing these casks, which is just incredible.
Overall, Independent’s Day was a great event. Food was plentiful, water was available, all in a non-competitive environment where all the ‘small guys’ who produce small batch artisanal spirits were able to showcase their wares. Can’t wait for next year!
A big thanks to Ben Baranow and Baranow’s Emporium for putting this event together including his team Joey, Lachlan and Bryce. Also a huge thanks to member and single cask fanatic Alex Moores for his help at the stand (pictured), Scott Fitzsimons running the Indies store sharing duties with our West Australian ambassador Nathan DeTienne.