Scotch Malt Whisky Society Tasting

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society held its end of year bash with special tastings, giveaways, and a celebration of its ten year anniversary in Australia.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Scotch Malt Whisky Society tasting

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is a private club and independent bottler that offers its members some of the rarest and finest malts of Scotland. All Society whiskies are single malts bottled at cask strength with no added caramel or chill filtration. Under an agreement, the bottles do not bear the distiller’s name and as a result the Society does not publish a list matching numbers to distilleries.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
SMWS bottles

The evening was hosted by Andrew Derbidge, Director of the SMWS, State Manager for NSW and Cellarmaster. The purpose of the events is to “bring a piece of Scotland to Sydney” through tastings interspersed with travel images and stories and historical references.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society tastings are different to the norm. The drams on taste are not identified at first, with members and guests engaging in a guessing game, designed to refine one’s nose, palate and knowledge while being entertained.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Andrew Derbidge

Guests mingled on arrival over a welcome dram later identified as Glenmorangie Original, a good aperitif style whisky to kick off the end of year event. Glenmorangie, the sponsor of this event, has donated prizes and whiskies to be won by members.

The first whisky was floral on the nose, with honey, pears and vanilla notes which all translate to the palate. Adding a little water enhanced its floral and fruity notes and finished a little sweeter. The whisky was SMWS 125.66 Glenmorangie 6yo (59.7% ABV) described as “Fruity sweetness and floral perfumes”.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Whiskies on taste

Next was a dram with dark, caramel colour and toffee, butterscotch, dark chocolate and mead on the nose with a little spice on the finish. Later identified as Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, and not a SMWS dram, it has spent 10 years in American oak casks and finished for 2 years in port casks which gives it the reddish hue.

The third whisky was Glenmorangie 18yo with citrus, cumquat, ginger snaps and blood orange on the nose and palate. The liquid has luxurious “legs” when tilted in the glass. This dram was aged in American oak casks for 15 years then some of it is transferred to Oloroso sherry casks for three years before the two are blended.

Peat, smoke, complexity, barley notes, Wellington boots, Christmas ham, even the smell of your jeans after barbequing were some of the descriptions echoed around the room for the next tasting. Smooth, delicate, fragrant with a salty finish and heat at the back palate, the dram had the characteristics of an Islay malt. SMWS 53.173 Caol Ila 16yo 59.8% ABV is described as “Glowing embers on the tongue”. This was by far the favourite Society whisky on taste.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Light supper

After a light supper to reset the palate, the next whisky had no peat with notes of cut grass,mint, menthol, brine and alight and fragrant but complex nose. The dram tingles on the tongue and leaves an oily mouthfeel. Strong on the burn, there is a lot of fruit on the nose and palate in the SMWS 73.53 Aultmore 10yo 58.9% ABV “Springtime freshness; spicy warmth”.

The next dram had a rich nose with banana, toffee, caramel, but not as sweet on the palate. The dram had spent 11 years in port casks which gave it a spice character such as cloves. SMWS 30.72 Glenrothes 11yo 57.3% ABV – “Take a break and have a….”

Whisky no 7 was identified as having a high ABV, above 60% with caramel, toffee, dried fruits, raisins and prunes on the nose. On the palate, it has a long and lingering finish, warming and smooth. SMWS 116.18 Yoichi 18yo 64.4% ABV – “Amazing toffee, honey sweetness” is matured in Japanese oak, which has tighter wood grains hence retaining the higher alcohol level.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
SMWS 33.119

And to celebrate the Society’s tenth anniversary, a special bottling of a 10 yo cask has made it to Austrian shores. SMWS 33.119 is a 10yo Ardbeg with 58.5% ABV described by the Society as “A Gumtree bonfire barbeque on the beach”, or as we prefer to call it, a peat party in the mouth. Rich, intense, heavily peated, this was a luxurious dram on which to end the evening.

Andrew Derbidge
Andrew Derbidge (Director)

The Australian branch of the Society produces Outturn Magazine quarterly which contains the newsletter and bottling list with comprehensive tasting notes from the UK tasting panel. Unfiltered – the Society’s international whisky magazine is published four times a year and has launched an iPad version.

If you’re a single malt novice or an enthusiast, membership of the Society offers a fun and interactive way to enhance your knowledge in a social environment as well as the opportunity to purchase the wide range of unique and rare Society bottlings.


Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society end of year bash was held at the Sydney Automobile Club on Friday 23 November 2012.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.