Edinburgh’s member-based whisky club and independent bottler Scotch Malt Whisky Society opens chapter in Singapore, offering its membership programme for access to an eclectic range of single cask bottles.
Whisky aficionados would no doubt have heard of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the Edinburgh-based membership programme that offers members the opportunity to buy specially-sourced single cask, single-malt whiskies otherwise unavailable in the general market. First founded by a bunch of whisky-loving friends in 1983 for pulling together resources to buy and share whisky casks directly from distilleries, the society has exploded in popularity in recent years opening chapters all across the world from Australia and the United States to Japan and single malt-loving Taiwan. Earlier this month the Scotch Malt Whisky Society announced the opening of its Singapore chapter, with whisky bar The Single Cask in CHJIMES its first local partner bar and spirits importer Malt Vault as official distributor.
The local SMWS chapter will see an initial modest offering of 16 different single cask expressions made available for purchase by members. And if you’re wondering about the quality of sourcing, you may want to remember that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was named Independent Bottler of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s prestigious Independent Bottlers’ Challenge (IBC) competition for 2017.
“As we approach our 35th anniversary in 2018, we are delighted to launch The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s new branch in Singapore, and share our love for the finest single cask, single malt whiskies,” said Neil Aitken, International Commercial Director at the SMWS. “This is an important first step in introducing the Society to whisky lovers here in Southeast Asia.”
The 16 expressions (with nett price) are:
- 3.297 Shrimp A La Plancha ($360)
- 7.155 Making Cakes By The Crackling Fire ($380)
- 7.164 Carefree Contentment ($340)
- 11.31 All Toasty And Cosy ($220)
- 29.200 Smoked Salmon Candy ($420)
- 29.201 Peat Smoked Candied Angelica ($380)
- 29.205 Two Wheeled Beach Cruiser ($390)
- 29.208 Bonfire On A Rocky Island Shore ($480)
- 35.176 Surf & Snowboard ($210)
- 41.87 Punchy Perfumed Peach And Plum ($210)
- 44.75 Sticky Blossom And Spice ($240)
- 46.49 Mango Colada ($360)
- 50.91 A Throwback ($410)
- 54.45 Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream ($220)
- 55.41 Soothing And Inviting ($270)
- G4.11 A Happy Gathering ($430)
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is perhaps best known for creating and introducing an entirely new consumer approach to buying whiskies with its unique and quirky approach to naming, numbering and describing tasting notes. As you can see from the above you won’t find the name of the distillery printed on an SMWS bottle, for example, but a unique number identifying the distillery followed by the cask i.e. the 3 in 3.297 Shrimp A La Plancha indicates that the cask comes from Bowmore, and the 297 is the 297th time the SMWS has bought casks from that distillery. It can be daunting for consumers new to whisky, but that’s where SMWS’s official tasting notes come in, a highly sensorial description of what one may smell and taste in the whisky.
The nights were long and there was a frost in the air as we gathered together the seasonal cake ingredients. Into the bowl went candied orange, stone fruits, cape gooseberries, honey, coconut milk and salted butter. We then ground together the spices… nutmeg, aniseed and cloves. The smell was glorious! As the bitter wind blew forest leaves under the door we huddled around the fire with a hot cup of black tea and a block of dark chocolate. After maturing for 24 years in an ex-Bourbon hogshead this whisky was transferred to a 2nd fill ex-Sauternes hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.
– tasting notes on 7.155 Making Cakes By The Crackling Fire
Do note that these bottles are only available to members. The basic SMWS membership for the Singapore chapter clocks in at $140 nett per year, giving you a card which allows you the opportunity to buy any of the whiskies in the local portfolio. The pioneer membership tier starts out at $320 nett for the first year – it comes with a full membership pack including card, lapel pin, and small sample bottles – and is renewed at $140 per year thereafter.
Bad news though for existing SMWS members from overseas chapters – while you’re able to step into partner bars here for a dram, you won’t be able to buy full bottles; it’s likewise for local members visiting partner bars in other markets. You may have seen some SMWS bottles floating around in global travel retail; we understand that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society will be pulling the rug from under that soon to make its programme a fully membership-based one.
If 16 expressions sound like a very modest number, there are plans to expand that number once its membership drive here gets underway and when more partner bars sign up. Who knows, if demand’s there we may even see the single cask rums, cognacs and bourbons SMWS has recently started bottling.
You can find out more about the Singapore chapter of Scotch Malt Whisky Society here.
[Photo credits: Joel Lim Photography]