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The Club Every Scotch Lover Should Be a Part of: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Scotch MWS_NewBottles_v2, Scotch Malt Whisky Society
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Editor’s Note: Last November we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.

This article could be one sentence long: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society exists, and you need to be a part of it. Seriously, it could. Do you need more key words than Scotch, malt, whisky, and society? You don’t, but we want to make sure you’re making an informed choice before you join a new club, so check out everything you need to know about SMWS below.

The History

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s roots date back to the 1970s and a man named Pip Hills, who drove from his home in Edinburgh to a distillery in order to purchase a cask of single malt whisky. Hills ended up sharing that cask with his friends who then collectively decided to buy another cask the next year, and so on. The whisky sharing allowed Hills and his friends to engage in a shared passion while drinking the really good stuff. That ethos has continued through the years as the SMWS has grown. And while it has grown significantly, every bottle that goes through the SMWS is still only sourced from single casks. 

Speaking of the Whisky…

Each whisky that becomes part of the SMWS is rigorously tested by the Society’s secret tasting panel before it is put in the signature green bottle that all SMWS whiskies are stored in. The panel selects whiskies according to quality and interest and without any information relating to age, cask, or origin. Even when bottled, the distillery is not mentioned by name but by number, a nod to the fact that single cask whiskies often are not representative of the region that they hail from.

Malt-Whiskey-Society-Barrel-Wide
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To Join

Basic membership will cost you $129 for your first full year. By joining, you get:

  • Access to purchase exclusive single cask whiskies which are only available through SMWS.
  • A quarterly subscription to Unfiltered– THE must-read whisky magazine if you are serious about single malt whisky.
  • Access to Members’ Rooms in the UK – Edinburgh, Leith, and London.
  • Invitations to tastings and events near you.

If you want a more involved experience, you can opt for the membership with tasting kit, which will run you $229 for the first year. This membership entitles you to all of the above with the addition of a:

  • New membership welcome kit, complete with three 100ml bottles of Society whisky, a membership handbook, and a copper Society lapel pin.
Scotch-Malt-Whiskey Society-1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you make it through your first year, there is a $70 renewal fee, which, when you think about it, is less than most good bottles of Scotch.

But Wait, There’s More!

Membership grants you other benefits, such as being able to visit SMWS venues in Edinburgh (28 Queen Street), Leith (The Vaults), and London (19 Greville Street).

If you’re not planning a trip over to the United Kingdom anytime soon, SMWS also has a number of partner bars in the states where you can go to sample Society whiskies. Partner bars are located in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, and more. A full list can be found here.

So, at this point, if you’re still reading, you should stop and go find your wallet. Really. We’ll wait.

Okay, ready? Click here to sign up now for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and get ready to be part of one of the coolest whisky clubs ever.

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Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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