The Beginners Guide To The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Australia Branch)

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a premium whisky club; more than that, though, it’s a community, a place where whisky lovers, appreciators, connoisseurs, dabblers and enthusiasts come together to share their passion for flavour. That’s what it’s all about — sharing flavour and celebrating whisky in its purest form — cask strength bottled directly from a single cask. I’d like to take you back [...]

Stashed in the Attic: Old Bottle Effect

Featured in Unfiltered #60 Words: Tom Bruce-Gardyne OBE, or ‘old bottle effect’ lest anyone confuse it with the Queen’s birthday honours, is something of an enigma. It clearly exists in the world of fine wine, but what of whisky? Tom Bruce-Gardyne investigates. Charlie MacLean Is the character of a whisky completely locked in at the moment of bottling, never to change – or might [...]

Your Musical Whisky Companion

March Outturn 2022 Feature Article   Whisky is a versatile spirit that lends itself to many occasions and applications. In the last 20-30 years, it’s also increasingly being used to pair, match with, or provide contrast to other foods and drinks. The Australian branch of the Society has been particularly active in this regard, presenting some wonderful events for members that have gone beyond the [...]

Underrated whisky time: GRAIN!

Underrated whisky time: GRAIN!   Grain whisky, in the context of Scotch whisky, is the backbone of the whisky industry. Blended whisky still accounts for more than 85% of all whisky sold which has a grain backbone and malt dressing. This leads to the incorrect assumption that somehow grain whisky (aka any grain that isn't malted barley) is somehow 'inferior' to malt whisky. It really [...]

STARWARD: Drinker’s World by Chris Middleton

Two worlds of STARWARD PART 2: Drinker’s world Selling whisky is the most difficult part of the business, and much more expensive, compared to the mechanical and biological processes involved in the liquid manufacture of whisky. Maker’s world ends when whisky leaves the distillery in a bottle, protected by trademark to become a brand in […]

This in-depth article from the Chairman of STARWARD, Chris Middleton, is available only exclusively to members of the SMWS. Keen to be a member and explore the world's most colourful whisky club and all the benefits that go along with it? Click here to join up now.

STARWARD: Maker’s World by Chris Middleton

Two worlds of STARWARD In the whisky industry, regardless of country, distillery or label, there are two distinct worlds a whisky business must succeed in. There is Maker’s world, where the whisky is manufactured at the distillery. It’s a tangible and repetitive world of grain to beer, beer to spirit, spirit to cask. Once the […]

This in-depth article from the Chairman of STARWARD, Chris Middleton, is available only exclusively to members of the SMWS. Keen to be a member and explore the world's most colourful whisky club and all the benefits that go along with it? Click here to join up now.

Australian Whisky: Aussie Whisky Is Changed Forever…

The following article was written by our National Ambassador, Matt Bailey, for the August 2021 Outturn which features our very first Australian whisky bottled by the SMWS. He thinks this is a rather special occasion, and the first of many. Join him on this journey by joining the SMWS today.     Chapter 3 – Australian whisky is changed forever… By Matt Bailey   If [...]

Australian Whisky: The Great Reinvention

The following article was written by our own Cellarmaster and NSW State Manager for the SMWS, Andrew Derbidge. Chapter 2 chronicles the rebirth of the industry and where it's landed today. This full article plus more is in our August 2021 Outturn which features the Society's first-ever, panel-approved single cask Australian whisky. Keen to learn more and want to join Australia's leading single cask whisky [...]

Australian Whisky: Not So Humble Beginnings

The following chapter of Australian whisky has been written by Luke McCarthy for our August 2021 Outturn, launching Friday 6 August, in anticipation of Cask 147.1 Jacaranda Jam. This is the first Australian whisky to be selected by the expert tasting panel of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Keen to learn more? Join the world's most colourful whisky club today.   Chapter 1 – Not [...]

Early praise for Cask 147.1 Jacaranda Jam

Some early preview tastings have proven that upcoming Cask 147.1 Jacaranda Jam is set to wow members with the cask selection and spirit curation: Renowned wine & spirits reviewer for the Australian Financial Review, Max Allen, says of Cask 147.1: "I can vouch for it enthusiastically: it pours rich and oily in the glass, exudes aromas of cinnamon scroll, orange peel, beeswax and toffee, and [...]

Australian Whisky Takes A Leap Forward

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society proudly announces its first ever Australian whisky! In a seismic shift for Australian whisky and the appreciation of local spirit, we'd like to proudly welcome Society bottling code 147 to the family. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in August will be releasing the very first single cask Australian whisky ever to pass the scrupulous noses of our expert tasting panel. [...]

Society small-batch single malt hits heights at Ultimate Spirits Challenge

The Society’s small-batch Islay Festival bottling Smoky Maritime Hit wins ‘Extraordinary: Ultimate Recommendation’ award in prestigious USC competition. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Islay Festival bottling for the United States, Smoky Maritime Hit, has proved a hit with the judges of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, with an award of 98 points that puts it into the highest category of ‘Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation’ as a Chairman’s [...]

Scotch Whisky Masters success for SMWS

Scotch Whisky Masters success for SMWS With more than double the entries this year than last, competition for the Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Master was more intense than ever – making the Society’s haul of one Master medal and five Golds from our six entries a fantastic achievement. This year’s Scotch Whisky Masters competition saw 169 entries from 45 different companies, making it the biggest [...]

Battle Royale: Batch Distillation vs Continuous Distillation

At the heart and soul of a distillery, and one of the most important parts of the whisky making process, sits the stills! Those beautiful bulbous cauldrons boiling away with malted magic inside just waiting to vaporise and become liquid again, working to create a spirit that one day will become whisky! Truly a sight to be seen for any whisky lover! Distillation is where the [...]


PRESS RELEASE The SMWS joins the ADA! The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is excited to announce its membership to the Australian Distiller’s Association. As the Society grows and takes a keen interest in the development of spirits around the world, the decision to join the Australian Distiller’s Association is a decision we’re keen to foster and support. The growth of spirits in Australia and the [...]

How to score that bottle you’re after on Outturn

We're merely days away from our next Outturn, so probably no better time than to provide you with the tips on how to score that special bottle you're after on Outturn day! First up, Outturn is our monthly catalogue of tasty whisky releases exclusive to members of the SMWS. Secondly, Outturn almost ALWAYS falls on the first Friday of each month (except in November). So for [...]

Hotscotch History

The Society prides itself on innovation, on experimentation, on pushing the flavour boundaries. It hasn't worked all the time... Your resident Society history nerd here on a Friday morning with one of my favourite SMWS experiments. Everyone is probably aware of this in some form, but not everyone will have heard the tale of the legendary MD's Folly... Sometime in 2001, the then managing director, [...]

Welcome Dean’s Lounge to the Society!

Welcome Dean’s Lounge to the SMWS! We’d like to formally welcome Dean’s Lounge to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society as a Partner Bar! Located at 7 Kellett Street, Potts Point NSW, Dean’s Lounge is a newly opened,  friendly, funky, inner-city, late-night neighbourhood bar that specialises in great whisky, free video games, tasty jaffles and incredible music. If you’re craving great drinks, cosy atmosphere, and a [...]

Celebrating Ten Years with Whisky & Alement x SMWS

CELEBRATING TEN YEARS Whisky & Alement Special Release of SMWS bar pick of Cask 72.89 Pirate's breakfast juice People often ask me which cities on earth have the strongest ‘whisky culture’? Which places have a really thriving whisky scene where the bars and knowledge of great whisky are thriving? This, of course, is an ever-evolving beast in whisky that’s all driven by great people and [...]

Pax A Punch: What is paxarette in whisky?

Casks treated by the condensed sherry syrup known as paxarette have been around for more than a hundred years. SMWS traces the history of its use in the Scotch industry and asks if its reputation is unfairly maligned. Scotch connoisseurs have long adored their sherried drams. And it’s easy to understand why.   Casks seasoned by […]

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SMWS Bottlings Score High In IWSC 2020

The SMWS has scooped a gold medal and five silvers in this year’s International Wine and Spirits Competition! The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has won high praise from the judges at the International Wine and Spirits Competition for its range of single malt whiskies, with a gold medal and five silvers. Hot off the heels of winning the coveted 'Independent bottler of the Year' three years in [...]

Nostalgia – it’s a thing of the past

One of the great discussion topics that vexes many a whisky enthusiast and ignites many strong opinions is the notion of whether or not whisky used to be better “back in the day”.   Even that statement by itself is contentious.  For when was back in the day?  Was it the 1960’s or 70’s, when blends still ruled the roost?  Was it the spirit distilled in the [...]

Deciphering the Hashtag

Although I technically qualify as a millennial, even I can get overwhelmed by the overuse of hashtags. They often get thrown around with wild abandon, and one would be forgiven for thinking they are unimportant and do not contribute to carefully crafted content. Many members may have seen these tags, or used them in passing, and not given much thought to the meaning that lies [...]

Celebrating the Australian exclusive Gathering cask

September each year is all about the Gathering. A global coming together of members across the world to celebrate the joy of whisky camaraderie. The joy of sharing great single casks with flavour adventurers at the SMWS. One of those casks is a full cask exclusive to Australia, Cask 26.147 'So many colours in a rainbow'. Let's read more about the history and story of [...]

Distilled Delorean

To properly examine the effects of technology in distilling and how it’s changing the game, we need to really go back in time to begin with. Where was distilling first discovered? Always a hotly contested subject among whisky buffs, as some say that the first use of distillation occurred in China, Egypt, or perhaps Mesopotamia. This ‘distillate’ was then mostly to create balms, essences, and [...]

August Malt of the Month

This month’s Malt of the Month is all about the Sugared Summer Strawberries, so let’s pour a dram to remind us of warmer days... Founded in 1897, BenRiach has a distillery history story not too unlike many Scottish distilleries throughout history; periods of closure due to either wars or running out of money. However, where BenRiach didn’t stop was in that infamous Scotch whisky downturn [...]

A history of flavour into wine and whisky!

There’s one constant that connects the worlds of wine fanatics and whisky appreciators: flavour. Our relentless search and journey in flavour that connects us with like-minded people and profiles that all seek out flavour and experience. However, to help facilitate that journey we both need one thing: oak. The humble oak tree. Quercus Alba and its friends Robur, Macrocarpa, Phellos, Acuta and more. Confused? Let’s [...]

Win this rare bottle of single cask whisky

The word is out. Back in 2018, we had a special cask of whisky bottled in Scotland exclusively for our Partner Bar network worldwide. While every cask is usually bottled for members, this one was bottled as a Partner Bar exclusive and no member sales were permitted. While raiding through the warehouse the other day, our ambassador spotted one stray bottle left of this cask. [...]

Lindores Abbey

Queensland Manager Scott Mansfield is a first generation Australian.  On his mother’s side, he can trace his family’s connection to Newburgh, Fife in Scotland back to the 1600’s.  There’s no doubt his family ties extend further back in the recesses of time. -- There’s not much new about Newburgh.   Generation after generation of its good folk have gone about their business as the River Tay [...]

SMWS Q&A: Spirits Director Kai Ivalo

Cask purchasing, coronavirus, Tasting Panels and sampling whisky infused with sheep dung – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s spirits director Kai Ivalo tackles a variety of questions in his question and answer session with Society UK ambassador Monique ten Kortenaar.   WHAT’S YOUR ROLE WITHIN THE SMWS? I’m both the spirits director and the marketing director. I work with the two teams for both sides [...]

Drink the whisky, not the kool-aid

Drink the whisky, not the kool-aid BY ALEX MOORES, SMWS VIC STATE MANAGER At the genesis of the Society, Pip Hills met with Russell Sharp at the Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow, a place that is still operational and a roaring good time from firsthand experience. The then-head chemist at Chivas Bros said to our founder that while he supported the idea of an independent bottling [...]

What’s your spirit animal?

This month is all about Animal & Flavour matches. What’s your flavour animal? Read on… WRITTEN BY NICK BAKER Animal & Flavour Matches   Young & Spritely - The Graphic flutterer (Rhyothemis graphiptera) This type of Dragonfly is found in the Northern wetlands of Australia. What animal represents the dance of life better than a Dragonfly? This species is one of the world’s most stunning. [...]

We’re bringing the festival to you

Each year in Scotland there are celebrations of all things whisky... Kicking off in May, there’s the Highland Whisky festival, Spirit of Speyside festival, the Campbeltown Malts festival, and The Islay Festival (better known as Feis Ile). A true celebration of malts, music, community and camaraderie. The Society has been integral to these festivals as a major partner for years and bottles some of the [...]

SMWS Wins Top Award in Luxury Masters Competition

A single grain bottling from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been named the most outstanding luxury spirit in the Luxury Masters 2019, along with three Master and three Gold medals in a competition dedicated to super and ultra-premium expressions The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s year of awards success has continued with our single grain Cask No. G6.9: Listening to the frog chorus winning the ‘Best in [...]

A trip through some special releases

Last weekend, we wanted to take some time to revisit some exclusive bottlings loved by you. We asked members and ambassadors from across our community to provide their take on some of the memorable exclusives they’ve experienced over the years. Read on to explore each bottling with the original Tasting Note and some flavour notes from our members. We’ve also provided a wallpaper for your [...]

Discover Grain

With the release of this month’s Cask G4.19 ‘Could solve any problem!’, we thought it might be a good time to analyse grain whisky a bit more, dispel some myths, and learn more about the history of the fascinating Cameronbridge distillery.   Grain whisky from Scotland is definitely Scotch whisky, but is not to be confused with single malt whisky. So what is grain then? [...]

Big Swirl is coming in April Outturn: Learn More Here!

Big Swirl is coming! The Society's latest heresy release is being launched in April Outturn, Friday 3 April at midday. Keen to learn more? Want to join the Society with a bottle of Big Swirl? What is Big Swirl? Big Swirl is The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 7th blended malt Scotch whisky release. It’s 10-years-old and it’s a blend of Speyside malts. Some of the [...]

Our Response To Covid-19

OUR RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC Dear members, Here at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society we have been monitoring developments of the Covid-19 / Coronavirus for a number of weeks and have been taking as many precautions as necessary. Whilst we are confident that we have implemented correct practices and that our members and hosts have all done their utmost to avoid any potential spread [...]

Press Release: The Oak Barrel Joins AMWTC 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Oak Barrel officially joins the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship as ‘Single Cask’ Sponsor The Oak Barrel is Sydney’s leading independent bottle shop. Founded in 1956 they boast over 60 years of service and regular masterclasses around wine, beer and spirits. For the sixth consecutive time, the Oak Barrel are proudly joining the AMWTC hosted by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society [...]

An Islay Icon

Let's dig a bit deeper on some of the fascinating single casks in this Friday's March Outturn: The island – and whisky region – of Islay is often erroneously pigeonholed under one label: “Smoky and peaty”. The reality is far from this: There are the unpeated whiskies of Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich, the broad-spectrum malts of Bowmore, Kilchoman, and Caol Ila, and there are the heavyweights [...]

To mash or not to mash?

If you’ve never visited Scottish distilleries and have a purely idyllic perspective on what all distilleries look like, then when you do visit, you’re likely to be a bit disappointed...   As I’ve said at tastings before, not every distillery looks like Strathisla. Some do, but many look like fairly nondescript industrial estates with rows of grey warehouses and often a few steel pipes poking [...]

An exciting new chapter for the SMWS in Australia

A special announcement from the team at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Australia   Here at Society HQ, there’s always plenty happening behind the scenes. Whether it’s planning our next big event, preparing our next Outturn, or assembling our next shipment, you can guarantee we always have something in the works to enhance your enjoyment of the world of whisky and your membership experience. Something [...]

Legendary Bottlings: The Society’s Early Single Casks

The coded numerical system that features on the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s (SMWS) bottlings was originally created in order to collaborate with distilleries. But the range serves today as a time capsule of a pivotal period in the history of Scotch whisky, as Angus MacRaild discovers.   Much like the grander arc of Scotch whisky itself, the history of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is populated [...]

Whisky Talk: Adding Water To Your Whisky

When it comes to appreciating a great whisky, there are a few techniques that I have adopted to ensure I get the most out of my tasting experience.   Techniques such as using the right glass, making sure the spirit is served at the right temperature (not too hot, not too cold), avoiding any spicy or bold-flavoured foods just prior to the tasting and eliminating [...]

Introducing Our New Look

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was founded in 1983 through a spirit of friendship – a small group of people who used the discovery of single cask whisky as a reason to get together and enjoy each other’s company. As word of mouth spread about how good the whisky was, friends of friends started to get involved. That group grew to become a community, and then a club of [...]

What is single cask, single malt whisky?

What is single cask, single malt whisky?   The Society is the worldwide leader, and most-awarded, independent bottler and whisky club on earth. What we have done best since 1983 is producing single cask, single malts, and occasionally other intriguing spirits also in single cask form. What does this mean and how does it differ from most commercially available offerings?   First, let’s work out [...]

What does the colour of whisky tell us about whisky?

Can the colour of a whisky really reveal anything about how it will taste? The biggest mistake in whisky appreciation, according to Chivas Brothers director of blending Sandy Hyslop, is judging a dram by its colour. So why do we continue to do it?   The basic answer is that it’s psychologically unavoidable – for better or worse, we make most of our decisions based [...]

The SMWS by Playwright David Mamet in 1995

The following article was written by American playwright, film director, screenwriter and author, David Mamet. It was written in 1995 for Penthouse Magazine and then faithfully reproduced for attendees to the Vaults 1682 Experience in 2019, complete with spelling errors and all. Here it is in all its glory for you to read again: -- SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY By David Mamet I’d had my [...]

Hat trick for SMWS at IBC 2019!

Society makes it three-in-a-row with Independent Bottler of the Year award! The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has claimed its third consecutive title of Independent Bottler of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers’ Challenge (IBC) competition. What better way to approach the end of the year than with further recognition for the consistently outstanding quality of our whiskies, by picking up our third consecutive title [...]

Learn more about Glenfarclas and Loch Lomond

Cask 1.210 'Kept in the dark' There's not much really I can say about Glenfarclas that your station host and Cellarmaster Andrew Derbidge doesn't know. It's his favourite distillery and he's kinda my oracle of whisky. Read this line to him if you've scanned the QR to get here... that said, it's a distillery renowned for its output of amazing sherried whiskies, and this one [...]

Learn more about Kavalan and Bunnahabhain

Cask 139.5 'Midnight espresso' Euan from the SMWS HQ doesn't mince words when he admits he's been chasing Kavalan for years. We finally bottled our first casks from distillery 139 this year (pictured), and they've quickly become rare and sought after very quickly, including cask 139.5 Midnight espresso. Thanks to the work of Dr Ian Chang and the late Dr Jim Swan, Kavalan has quickly [...]

Learn more about Caol Ila and Glenlossie

Cask 46.72 'Jungle slippers' 25 years is a long time. That was 1994. What were you doing then? Glenlossie is often a grassy, complex, and backbone of many Diageo blends. It also sits next door to the younger distillery Mannochmore which was created out of requirement to the growing needs of Scotch whisky back in the early 70's before the big 80's bust. The distillery [...]

Learn more about Ruadh Maor and Cragganmore

Cask 16.38 'ACME ghost repellant'  A truly fascinating return to form for distillery 16 with the SMWS. We've not seen a 16 coded bottle for some time, and this is just the 38th cask ever. Technically Glenturret distillery, but they call their peated run 'Ruadh Maor'. Try saying that after a few. A fascinating distillery that likes to lay claim of being the oldest operating [...]

Learn more about Strathila and Glenallachie

Cask 58.28 'Usquebae an' blankets warm' Often quite a heavy spirit at Strathila, known for being the most picturesque distillery in Scotland with it's stunning gardens and old-school pagoda roof. Visiting the distillery will reveal they don't really focus on their single malt, but instead refer to their output as the 'heart of Chivas Regal' which is true. Their stills are cramped into a tight [...]

The art of collecting whisky

After reading a great article recently by our Cellarmaster on ‘whisky flippers’ and the ugly side of scalping whisky, I was inspired to look at the other side of the coin: whisky collecting. What does this mean specifically, and how do you collect whisky? Some drams for thought… I’ve often categorised whisky buyers into three broad categories in this respect. The first is whisky drinkers. [...]

Navigating our festive Outturn for 2019

It's that time of year again, where our massive festive Outturn is upon us and we release our bumper double-issue covering November and December to make your warm dramming months as wonderful as can be. How do you navigate Outturn, what can you expect, and more... Outturn is our monthly release of single cask, cask strength, single malts and more. Outturn falls on the first [...]

History of the SMWS in Australia – Part One

The following was written by John Rourke, one of the co-founders of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Australian branch, back in 2002. He wrote this for our Vaults 1682 dinner menu for guests on the night. Here it is faithfully replicated for all to enjoy!   History of the SMWS in Australia, Part One In the year 2001 having lived in London for the previous [...]

Society Wins Three Awards at Icons of Whisky 2020

The Icons of Whisky 2020, Australia awards were held in Sydney on October 21st this year. The Icons of Whisky is an awards program convened by Whisky Magazine and its international agents to recognise the people, places, and products that strive for excellence in the whisk(e)y industry. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Australian branch, have taken out a full trifecta this year:   SMWS National Ambassador, Matt [...]

We have a book! Introducing The Founder’s Tale for October

Rewind to May 2019 in the cask room at the Vaults in Edinburgh enjoying a great dinner and a few drams, and I was lucky enough to be sitting literally right next to the very founder of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Pip Hills. A truly traveled man with wondrous stories, his journey from not knowing a single thing about Scotch whisky, to being one [...]

5 things I wish I knew earlier in my whisky journey

5 things I wish I knew earlier in my whisky journey I’ve proudly been talking about single cask whisky, single malts, rums, Armagnacs, grains, Cognacs, and more for years and years now. I absolutely love the discovery of flavour that I get around members and friends who discover a whole new side to whisky. I’ve been asked some cracking questions lately at events and online [...]

Old Fashioned Friday

Old Fashioned being released this Friday 16/08 for our mid-month offer!   When the Society first bottled Japanese whisky, members were furious, membership cards were torn up, anger in the mailroom from their beloved SCOTCH whisky club bottling a Japanese whisky?! Surely they are inferior to our malts. Surely they won’t do. We were just ahead of the curve in whisky innovation back then just [...]

More accolades for SMWS Bottlings at IWSC 2019

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society continues to wow judges at international tasting competitions, with a string of awards in this year’s International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), now in its 50th year. The IWSC’s top award of Gold Outstanding went to Cask No. 35.224: Fata Morgana, our 23-year-old bottling from the Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile. The IWSC judges’ tasting notes found “an explosion of tinned fruit salad, with apples, [...]

An island treasure – but not from Scotland

The way some British patronise other nations, I often wonder whether Queen Victoria still reigns. People persist in trotting out the story of the label boasted: ‘Made from Scottish Grapes - Finest Speyside Whisky’. Everyone ‘knows’ that this label existed, but one has actually seen it. Other Japanese products having been routinely mocked and then greatly admired, I was extremely curious when I had my [...]

Curious Caperdonich: A moment in distilling history

With something special landing in our July 2019 Outturn, SMWS Cellarmaster Andrew Derbidge recounts his experience and history of the mystical and demolished distillery, Caperdonich. With so much focus in recent times on the wealth of new distilleries being established in Scotland, it’s easy to overlook that there were still quite a few distillery closures in recent times.   There’s a certain romance and reverence [...]

Whisky Chat: A talk with Sandy Hyslop

Unfiltered joined SMWS spirits manager Euan Campbell recently when he met up with the director of blending at Chivas Brothers, Sandy Hyslop. Here’s how their conversation went: Hi Sandy, how did your whisky journey begin? It was back in 1983, with a small whisky company in Dundee called Stewarts Cream of the Barley, where I started as a sample room assistant. I had a place to [...]

Old Pulteney Distillery

When you think of the great coastal distilleries that play on their maritime location, the usual suspects typically include the likes of Talisker, Lagavulin, Bunnahabhain, even Highland Park. One distillery that particularly plays on its maritime theme somehow continues to manage to sail under the radar: Pulteney Distillery. Pulteney is located in the town of Wick, which is right up in the very far north-east [...]

Archie Rose Dramside Chat: Dave Withers & Matt Bailey in conversation

Harriet Leigh, Head of Hospitality, or affectionately known to her friends as 'drinkface', took an hour out of her busy schedule to interview two guys who's friendship through shared experiences and the SMWS has grown over the last ten years, Dave Withers, and Matt Bailey. Dave is the master distiller of Archie Rose Distillery in Rosebery Sydney, and Matt is our national ambassador talking all [...]


These little column articles of mine have had a strong nostalgic theme running through them over the last few Outturns, and it’s been great to receive some comments and feedback from members who’ve expressed similar memories, experiences, and ideals. There’s a certain paradox to whisky – as much as the industry advances and progresses, there is much that remains rooted in tradition and memories. To [...]

Whisky festival fever! All four casks are now released to Australian members

May-June in Scotland is whisky festival season. The sun is up (sometimes) and the weather is nice (mostly) so it's a marvelous time to visit distilleries, catch some live music, and enjoy all that the festivals have to offer. Between May and June each year, there's the Spirit of Speyside Festival, Campbeltown Malts Festival, and the Islay Festival. Each year, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society [...]

The Lowlands whisky region revival

Scotland’s Lowlands have been somewhat overshadowed as a whisky region by the bigger, bolder counterparts of Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown and the Highlands and Islands. That could all be about to change through a combination of brand-new distillery ventures, the renovation of existing sites and the rebirth of lost distilleries. Tom Bruce-Gardyne reports on a neglected region’s whisky resurgence   With its blend of tartan, heather [...]

Whisky in Australia: A whole new world

Brooke Hayman and Julian White travelled from the other side of the globe to turn their fellow Scotch Malt Whisky Society members’ views about Australian whisky upside down It wasn’t only Brooke Hayman who benefited from winning the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship (The Whisky Champs) last year – the country’s biggest and most prestigious blind-tasting competition. As well as being crowned Malt Whisky Tasting [...]

SMWS Scoops More Gold at San Fran Spirit Awards!

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has enjoyed a great start to 2019 with another resounding success in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition The SMWS has wowed the judges again at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition with a haul of double gold medals for both our single cask malts, as well as bottlings from our Single Cask Spirits collection. Available now to Australian [...]

The news is out: the Jazz Trio is coming to May Outturn

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) will be releasing The Jazz Trio of very rare and select casks this May Outturn, however, you can taste them from this Thursday evening at Partner Bar Whisky & Alement. Named The Jazz Trio, a set of whiskies all originally born from the same sherry puncheon before being split equally across three different types of cask. The Jazz Trio [...]

Introducing Cask A2.2 Enchanted woodland stroll

To be able to say that we've got a single cask up for grabs from 1974 for members is truly astounding. Also helps that it tastes rather delightful! Introducing Cask A2.2 Enchanted woodland stroll to the SMWS. A single cask, cask strength, panel approved, second ever cask from Armagnac distillery 2 in our lineage, and bottled after 44 years in Gascon black oak. Armagnac is [...]

Digging deeper on 4 casks in our April Outturn tomorrow

Digging deeper on April Outturn 2019   Every month, without fail, we get hit with heaps of questions from curious members on more detail on the casks in an upcoming Outturn. Don’t get me wrong, I love that, but rather than it just being a one on one dialogue, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a bit more in detail about some of [...]

Our first Society Gin!

Welcome single cask gin to the Society! Gin?! You might be in a bit of confusion reading that. Yes, a whisky society bottling a cask strength, single cask, gin. We also bottle single cask rums, Armagnacs, Cognacs, ryes, bourbons, and now a gin. Always in the pursuit of unique and incredible flavours, the Society continues to innovate around this remarkable spirit. When we first bottled [...]

How to enjoy cask strength whisky

At The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we bottle our whisky straight from the cask. This means that while the majority of Scotch whisky sold today has been diluted, filtered and often artificially coloured prior to bottling, our whisky is 100% natural and left virtually untouched from the moment it exits the cask to the moment it reaches your lips.   The most notable difference with [...]

In Praise Of Youth: What does age mean anyway?

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You’re only as old as you feel.”   It’s often accompanied by its colleague, “Age is just a number”.  And ain’t that the truth when it comes to whisky! In the context of whisky, your perspective on age is probably a function of when you started drinking the stuff.  If it was over 30 years ago, then a whisky’s age [...]

How do the SMWS flavour profiles work?

Ask any member about their first experience of walking into a Society partner bar or Members Rooms and you will inevitably hear about the bewildering choice offered by those seemingly inscrutable green bottles. Indeed, even for the seasoned member, each new Outturn represents such an embarrassment of riches that it is often difficult to know where to start. The Society’s 12 flavour profiles provide another [...]

Allocations and Outturns: How Does It All Work

One item that often causes discussion (if not confusion!) amongst members is the allocations we get here in Australia. In particular, members may ask why we get 12 bottles of one particular cask, yet 42 bottles of another cask?  Does it mean the cask with only 12 bottles is rarer or more valuable?  No, not necessarily.  Allow me to explain….. With each production run the [...]

Three new casks this Friday: March Outturn

March Outturn is this Friday, and we’re really starting to ramp up for the cooler months with some fascinating casks on offer. Here’s a bit more rundown on three casks on offer and what to expect! To view the full March Outturn click here.   Kicking off with Malt of the Month. A bottling each month hand-picked by our Cellarmaster as something that is fun, [...]

Discover Cognac: Welcome Distillery C5 to the Society!

Brandy. The word has its origins in the Dutch meaning “brandewijn” which means burnt wine, or in this case ‘distilled wine’. Cognac, is in its simplest description, a French brandy. One that has been produced in France since the early 16th century initially as a way to transport wine without it souring. Fast forward to 2019 and Cognac is still one of the most unchanged [...]

When is the best time to appreciate whisky?

When are we best able to appreciate the complexities of a Society single cask, single malt? Scotch Malt Whisky Society Tasting Panel chair Angus MacRaild says it depends on whether you’re drinking for analysis, or pure pleasure.   If you were asked to run a marathon, climb a hill, or even do something more mundane such as the washing up – or read an article [...]

Introducing The Grumpy Piper as a Partner Bar to the SMWS!

Welcome The Grumpy Piper to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society as our newest Partner Bar! The Society proudly has a network of Partner Bars around the globe that take pride in serving up drams of Society casks to members and guests, plus offering membership perks along the way. A Partner Bar is a place you can call your local, your destination, your whisky bar of [...]

5 mistakes that most whisky drinkers make and how to avoid them

5 mistakes that most whisky drinkers make and how to avoid them: I remember a few years ago reading an article which was entitled something similar, about the 'mistakes' that whisky drinkers make, but instead of addressing actual mistakes, it called out 'snobbery' and 'elitism' to the point of just sounding grumpy. This article isn't that. This is meant to be a light-hearted re-evaluation of [...]

Announcing Cask 68.18 Triple berry lamington cake

A milestone release for our Partner Bar Whisky & Alement, who are celebrating five years of partnership with the SMWS! -- For our final release of 2018, we're proud to present Cask 68.18 'Triple berry Lamington cake'. This was selected by Partner Bar, Whisky & Alement, in Melbourne and bottled in their name to commemorate five great years of partnership. Cast your mind back to 2012 when [...]

Scotch Malt Whisky Society retains crown as Independent Bottler of the Year 2018

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been named as Independent Bottler of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers’ Challenge (IBC) competition, the sixth win for the SMWS in the past nine years What a year it’s been – and what a conclusion! As The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s year of 35th anniversary celebrations draws to a close, we have retained our title as Independent Bottler of [...]

Introducing Peat Faerie

Launching 16th November is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's hugely-anticipated bumper festive Outturn! It's not only our biggest offering of casks and good reads each year, but for 2018 has had an entirely fresh redesign to really brighten everything up in time for Christmas. So with that said, it's high time we formally announce that the Malt of the Month for our bumper festive Outturn [...]

Edinburgh Revival!

You wait almost 100 years for a malt whisky distillery to come along… and then three turn up at the same time. Edinburgh is about to see a remarkable resurgence in its malt distilling world, with the first new distilleries opening up since Glen Sciennes – also known as Edinburgh distillery – closed its doors in 1925. Unfiltered set out to meet the people behind [...]

Introducing BenRiach!

This month's Malt of the Month is a delightful deconstructed salad, so let's make it Malt of the Month! Founded in 1897, BenRiach has a distillery history story not too unlike many Scottish distilleries throughout history; periods of closure due to either wars or running out of money. However, where BenRiach didn’t stop was in that infamous Scotch whisky downturn of the 1980’s. A time [...]

Back to Basics: Start with Flavour!

Newcomers to the SMWS might be bamboozled as to what all these words and numbers are in an Outturn, and even where to start once they get their first Outturn in the mail. Longer-term members might just be looking for superstar codes or cask-types they’ve memorised, instead of focusing on exploring and flavour. Today, I’m stripping it all back and getting back to basics on [...]

Member reflections on 35 Years of the Society

In 2018, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been celebrating 35 years as a whisky club, bringing people together through the appreciation, enjoyment, and community of fine dramming on great spirit. While we've seen a lot of changes in 35 years, or 16 years for the Australian chapter, some things never change: we are still bottling only the most rigorously panel-approved single cask spirits on [...]

Winners of the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship 2018!

Last Saturday night saw the biggest whisky tasting in Australia take place with the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship for 2018 kick off. We'd like to formally congratulate the winners of the Champs, plus a huge round of applause to all who competed at this absolutely packed event! 3rd place: Matthew Wooler (NSW) 2nd place: Matt Whisker (NSW) WINNER: Australia's Malt Whisky Tasting Champion 2018 [...]

The Whisky Champs Pre-List for 2018 is here!

The Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship (AMWTC) for 2018 kicks off this Saturday, and back by popular demand the pre-list of 50 x malts is now disclosed 72 hours before the start of the Champs. Below is the pre-list of fifty (50) malt whiskies for the Whisky Champs this Saturday. Eight (8) of which will be in front of you come this Saturday, plus the one [...]

A History Of Wood Management

A history of wood management For almost as long as The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been in existence, it has not only been bottling whisky taken from a single cask – it has been actively managing the whisky’s maturation The SMWS may have started life in 1983 by bottling already mature whiskies straight from […]

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35 Years Of Visionary Spirit

35 Years of the SMWS  Last year we celebrated fifteen years of the Australian branch of the SMWS. This year we look at the bigger picture and celebrate 35 years of the SMWS changing the whisky landscape forever… When The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was formed, the wider whisky industry was in turmoil and experts dismissed the idea of selling single cask, single malts as [...]

How to win the whisky championship in 2018

How to win the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship on 28th July 2018   The Champs are fast approaching and I’ve already had a few friends and colleagues ask me “so what’s in the lineup huh?” and “have you got any tips on how to improve my chances of winning?”. All these kinds of questions I’ve been strictly tight-lipped on answering, until now…   The [...]

First Prize Announced for the Champs

For Immediate Release: The SMWS formally announces 1st Prize for the Champs next month!   Ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first. The Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championships (or 'Champs' for short), to be held in Sydney next month, is the biennial whisky tasting event that sees someone crowned the whisky champion of Australia. It’s the biggest whisky tasting in the country, proudly hosted [...]

What’s in a name – or a number?

With the Society’s release of a new distillery code, 135, we thought it might be time for a refresher course in our curious system of coding bottles. Pay attention – this could get a little complicated… The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s unique system of coding its bottles began when the Society was founded in 1983, with the release that year of its first four bottlings of [...]

The hidden sleeper whiskies worth exploring…

Not all whisky has to be superstar, just tasty... Anyone who’s sat down for a few drams with me will know that I have a certain affinity for Society single cask offerings where the distillery doesn’t get much core-range profile. This is often an exciting opportunity to taste something you'd normally never see, and in a unique flavour profile. These are Society offerings from distilleries [...]

Discover Single Cask Armagnac!

Let’s discover Armagnac! Take a flip through this month’s Outturn and you’ll notice we’re releasing our first single cask Armagnac in years. It’s been a while between casks, but we mustn’t rush perfection! So with that in mind, let’s discover what Armagnac actually is and how to properly appreciate the fine French spirit. Armagnac is the oldest French eau-de-vie, dating back to the early 14th [...]

That’s a wrap! Archie Rose x SMWS pop-up bar comes to a close.

And that's a wrap! Thanks to all the members, guests, friends, colleagues and first-time whisky explorers who made the effort of coming out over three cool nights at Archie Rose Distillery & Bar for the SMWS pop-up in the Mezzanine. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and from chatter online it looks like we need to seriously look at doing this with other Partner Bars [...]

Announcing Archie Rose x SMWS Pop-Up Bar

ARCHIE ROSE DISTILLING CO. AND THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY COLLABORATION (ARDC x SMWS) For three nights only, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is forming a collaborative pop-up bar for the Mezzanine Level at Archie Rose Distillery, where we'll be 'bringing the Vaults of Edinburgh' directly to Sydney for members, guests, friends and colleagues to come along and enjoy! From 4pm on the 3rd of [...]

The Finished Article

If moving whisky from one cask to another adds complexity and flavour to the dram, what’s not to love about the practice of finishing, asks Billy Abbott... Finishing, when we’re talking about whisky, is a fuzzy thing that can be boiled to down to a simple process: transferring whisky from one cask to another for a bit of extra maturation before it’s bottled. It can [...]

From mystery to mastery with Cognac at the SMWS

You may have noticed a few more 'C' casks coming through the SMWS of late, including the extremely old C3.1 pictured above. Let's lift the veil on these and explore a bit more... When the Society first bottled a cask strength Grain whisky, there was furore. When the Society first bottled single cask Japanese whisky, there was upset. When the Society first bottled a single [...]

Q&A: What is the Vaults Collection?

What is The Vaults Collection? The Vaults Collection is a group of the finest and rarest single cask, single malts, carefully selected from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s impressive stocks. They have been released from the depths of our treasure trove of casks, after decades of careful maturation and nurturing. The Vaults Collection represents a chance to journey back into whisky history, including the opportunity [...]

Get to know G15

A new code for the Society emerges and is released this month! G15.1 'Lead us to temptation'. This is a 9 year old single cask, single malt, grain whisky made from 100% malted barley. What?! You read that right. G15 is a unique whisky, produced in a distillery unlike any other in Scotland. It's legally a grain whisky, but using malted barley, and this is [...]

Introducing Exotic Cargo

Prepare yourself for something completely different, as the SMWS unveils its first ever blended malt Scotch whisky The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has always sought out the best single cask, single malt from distilleries both across Scotland and beyond. But we would never shy away from taking an experimental approach in the pursuit of new flavour experiences. With that in mind, we set out to [...]

Meet a member: Four questions for David Stucken from Bar Lafayette!

Bar Lafayette is at the forefront of a great drinking culture in Perth, led by an enthusiastic and considerate team including Bar Manager David 'Xander' Stucken at the helm. I found time to chat with David recently for a quick-fire of four questions to see what made him tick!   Matt Bailey: The Society is 35 years old this year! While every member has a [...]

Back to Basics: Making the most of Outturn

Back to Basics: What is Outturn, how do you make the most of it, and how to score that special bottle you're looking at...  Our full monthly Outturn at the SMWS is released to members on the first Friday of each month from Jan-Oct, then in November we have our bumper festive edition for November-December! So what is Outturn, how do you score what you're [...]

Press Release: Shirt Bar Barangaroo to have entire SMWS Outturn each month!

NSW & Sydney Members: You asked for it, we delivered! If there's one piece of recurring feedback we get from members of all walks, but especially NSW, is that they would like to taste whiskies from the upcoming Outturn before committing to buying a bottle. Partner Bar powerhouse Whisky & Alement have long had this treat for VIC members and still open the full Outturn [...]

Where we’ve come from – and where we’re going

It’s been quite a year for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and our members. Let’s take a moment to reflect on everything that’s happened, before we look ahead to 2018.   As we enter 2018 and look ahead to our international 35th anniversary next year, it’s hard to believe how far The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has come. And yet…our team is still based here [...]

Welcome Bar Lafayette to the SMWS as Partner Bar!

We’ve had an absolutely massive year at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society this year, and it’s the  members being a part of Australia’s best whisky club make the journey worthwhile! From our 15th anniversary of the local branch, to winning the IBC top gong of Independent Bottler of the Year 2017, we’ve had lots to celebrate this year, so our final formal announcement for 2017 [...]

Society named Independent Bottler of the Year for Whisky Magazine IBC Competition

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been named Independent Bottler of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s prestigious Independent Bottlers’ Challenge (IBC) competition! The SMWS has concluded a wonderful year of recognition for its single cask, single malts by winning the title of Independent Bottler of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers’ Challenge competition. The Society also won the awards for Independent Bottler of the Year [...]

How to have your whisky in a cocktail and eat it too

As far as booze related debates go, the one about how whisky should be drunk is as evergreen as it gets. How many times have you been told that expensive whisky should only ever be drunk neat (with perhaps a touch of water if you must) and that the quickest sure fire way to ruin it would be to put it in a cocktail? It [...]

Welcome The Lost Ones Basement Bar to the SMWS!

The SMWS Welcomes The Lost Ones as our latest Partner Bar The Scotch Malt Whisky Society would like to formally welcome The Lost Ones Basement Bar as an official Partner Bar. If you were to tell me there’s a whisky scene in Ballarat just a few weeks ago, I’d have a hard time believing you at face value. I’m not so much of a ‘city [...]

Bread & Whisky: An Unlikely Perfect Pairing

It was a little over 20 years ago that matching whisky to food and hosting whisky dinners became a “thing”.   When the Society first launched in Australia in 2002, many of our earliest events were actually whisky dinners.  Always in the pursuit of the “perfect match”, we’ve spent the last 15 years going out of our way to match and pair SMWS whiskies to many [...]

An Orkney Experience Like No Other: Highland Park

There’s something I like to say often about how Society experiences are truly unlike any other, still, in 2017 and beyond. The Society was hosting whisky events before there were ‘whisky events’ in Australia as commonplace, and we still to this day continue to push the definition, the experience, and the full-flavour of single-cask, cask-strength whisky, like no other. A series of 'Distillery Focus' events [...]

How to host your own whisky tasting at home

As members we know that we’re in great hands with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s expert tasting panel when it comes to bottling our rare single casks. The assessment of whisky is a tough job, but somebody has to do it! But what comes after panel approval is the bottling of the cask, the release of the cask to members, and then the all-important tasting [...]

Say hello to our new single cask spirits

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is, and always will be, about sourcing and offering to members the best single cask whisky in the world. But we also have an enduring passion to seek out the finer things in life, resulting in our soon-to-be-released Single Cask Spirits collection.   The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was founded by characters with a spirit of curiosity, who went to great [...]

How to get the most out of your whisky in 2017

As the Ambassador for what I regard as the world’s most incredible whisky club, I’m constantly blown away by the amount of newcomers to the category of great whisky, and even long-timers, who love learning more and more about the remarkable dark spirit. I’m still learning every day new things, new malts, new distilleries working with the Society, new adventures in other spirits etc. When [...]

Wollongong Whisky Dinner: Kneading Ruby

The fascinating tapestry of members from around Australia getting together, exploring flavour, and enjoying the great things in life, continues! Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting more Wollongong members, catching up with old friends, and enjoying an incredible dinner at Kneading Ruby paired with five Society single cask expressions. A small photo gallery below courtesy of our friends over at Dramnation: [...]

What do whisky brand names and age statements have to do with it, anyway?

Some will scour their Outturns for the oldest whiskies available, with the most recognisable distilleries they can find. But let’s entertain a new approach. Let me tell you the story of the evening I fell madly in love with the lower age statement and the more obscure distillery. As you probably know, Scotch whisky must be matured for three years. Aside from time, the cask [...]

Welcome to the Melbourne Whisky Room

Imagine you’re walking through Kyoto… the rich tapestry of sights and sounds from the warm brick corridors to the welcoming glow of a small bar with something unique to offer. You’d absolutely love a dram right now and the Society logo catches your eye. The familiarity of of quality and reminder of cask strength adventures you’ve had before, so you walk in. The feel is [...]