ABOVE: Spirits director Kai Ivalo on a previous visit to Copperworks distillery, which we feature in this month’s issue
Behind the curtain
Even before I started editing Unfiltered magazine, I was always amazed by the consistent quality of the whisky that ended up in a SMWS bottle – I could take it as a given, and still do, that if it had been seen fit to bottle and given a suitably Society-ish name and accompanying Tasting Notes, it was going to be good. No question. The only scale to work with was about just how good it would be.
But how was that possible, when the Society offers such a constant variety of, mostly, one-off single cask whiskies, with a new Outturn every month and even new distilleries, from Scotland and further afield, being offered up in our iconic green bottles.
The answer came when I started to find out more about the Society’s Tasting Panel, how it functions and the level of attention paid to each and every sample that comes up for evaluation via the Spirits Team. It’s been a huge privilege for me to become part of the Tasting Panel and to see how rigorous its processes are. It’s a serious, analytical business, but also a huge amount of fun – how could it not be fun coming up with these bottle names and Tasting Notes?
I’m delighted in this month’s Unfiltered, then, to have long-term Tasting Panel chairperson Angus MacRaild write about his experiences serving on the Panel, how it actually works and what it’s meant to him in his whisky life. We don’t usually give too much away about how the Panel operates, so this is a very welcome peak behind that particular curtain.
Elsewhere, Iain Russell serves up a double this month, with his history of how sherry became inextricably linked with Scotch, as well as a reflection on why investors in whisky casks should stick to names they can trust (such as The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, obviously…)
We also take a look at the next stage of the whisky making process with Gavin D Smith’s feature on malting, and take a nighttime whisky-drinking tour of mesmerising Mexico City – home to the Society’s first partner bar in Latin America.
Wherever you are, pour yourself a suitable dram, and enjoy.