The Festive Dram

The Festive Dram

November Outturn 2023 Ambassador’s Address


40 years as the world’s leading whisky club.

40 years. A 40-year-old whisky to match. A moment in liquid history.

40 years simultaneously feels like a long time and a short blip. It’s a lifetime of work in building the world’s leading whisky club, but barely a blip in the grand scheme of whisky production and enjoyment.

Thousands of years of production, turning barley into spirit, and spirit into whisky. In that context, 40 years is barely a ripple in the ocean. In the context of how far we’ve come as a whisky club, it’s a tidal wave. 40 years ago, Pip met a few friends on a farm and decided to bottle a single cask of whisky, and our ethos hasn’t changed much since.

So, what did the world look like in 1983? Well, from my perspective, I wasn’t quite born yet…but from the angle of whisky production, it was a dire state of affairs for single malt. In Australia, you would have been lucky to find maybe six–seven different single malt brands at retail, and barely behind any pub or bar. Blended whisky was king, cask strength was basically non-existent here, and the idea of regular ‘whisky tastings’ was some kind of voodoo I’m sure.

The world has changed a lot in 40 years. Further into this special bumper edition of Outturn you’ll see what I mean. Andrew’s written a great piece about stripping back the noise and contextualising this wavy year we’ve all seen. Guest writer Luke McCarthy has taken a snapshot of what whisky in Australia looked like in 1983, and our own Scott Mansfield has penned a piece around bringing Australia to Lindores Abbey, and the camaraderie that whisky brings.

This issue, as you can see from the cover, is quite an important one for us. Not just that, though — it’s our annual November mega-bumper-huge issue, but it’s also the final piece in the puzzle for our 40th anniversary of SMWS bottlings: the 40-year-old whisky. This is an incredible piece of distilling history through Cask 12.79. Distilled the year the SMWS was founded and fully matured in a refill sherry cask, this is the most opulent and important piece of Society history we’ve ever bottled. You can read more about it further along in this issue.

Elsewhere in this massive Outturn: a custom SMWS EXP.01 Chilli Whisky Chocolate Penguin custom created by Krsna from BASIK which is strictly limited, a hugely exciting virtual tasting, the launch of the 2023 Whisky Advent Calendar (which is a very different offering this year), a short piece on our sustainability commitment, the launch of a new membership option, and our first ever GOLDEN TICKET offering to members. Willy Wonka would be proud.

There’s a lot going on in these pages this month, so I’m going to keep this address brief. I hope you have a fantastic festive season regardless of your denomination, and am looking forward to sharing a cool highball or dram with you soon. 

Best wishes,

Branch Director 


This article is featured in November 2023 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 17th of November 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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