Cask strength celebrations
Here we go – Happy New Year to everyone, welcome to 2023 and the Society’s big year of 40th anniversary celebrations. And what a year we’ve got in store for you.
I’m delighted to kick it all off in the company of Pip Hills, the man who started it all back in 1983 when he and his pals had the crazy idea of setting up a club to share and explore single cask whisky. As Gavin Smith explains in this month’s Unfiltered, Pip’s decision came at a desperate time for the whisky industry, and there were plenty of people telling him he didn’t stand a chance of succeeding.
How wrong they were. Pip’s own whisky epiphany was enough to convince him that once people had the chance to experience this kind of whisky – single cask, cask strength, unchillfiltered – then they would go on to have their own epiphanies. His sense of belief, and mischief – of doing things his own way, instead of how convention dictated – inspired the SMWS from day one, and continues to inspire us four decades later.
So it was a huge pleasure for me to return with Pip to the farm in Aberdeenshire where he experienced the whisky epiphany that led to the founding of the SMWS. I spent time at Denmill farm with Pip and his pals Duncan and Catriona McArdle, with a lemonade bottle of whisky to share round the table as they reminisced about taking in the barley on an ancient combine harvester, winning the respect of their neighbouring farmers, and sharing an unforgettable dram with a certain Stan Barnett. You can read more about that in this issue, and we’ve put together a short film as well to capture Pip, Duncan and Catriona back at the farmhouse table where it all began.
There’s plenty more to dip into as we start the new year, with a great story about three generations of one family enjoying their Society membership, and we take a look into how the relationship between Scotch and sherry started out.
It’s always great to hear from members, so if you have anything you’d like to share or would like to see in Unfiltered, please drop me a line.
All the best for 2023 and some great times ahead,