Around the world with the Society

Here’s a flavour of what’s been going on at the world’s most entertaining whisky club

The Society’s Big Personality

The SMWS’s very own Matt Bailey, Australia country director, was named “Personality of the Year” in the Australian Whisky Awards, held in Sydney in February. More than 73,000 votes were cast by representatives of the whisky trade and consumers across five categories, with Matt taking first place ahead of Bill Lark and Craig Field. Congratulations Matt!

A welcome return to Denmark

A highlight of the whisky calendar in Scandinavia was back at the start of February, with the SMWS branch in Denmark putting on four days of sensational dramming at its Vejle headquarters. Highlights included a ’10 years of SMWS Denmark’ tasting with Danish ambassador and branch manager Thomas Korsgaard, along with masterclasses by Olaf Meier, John McCheyne and many more.

Melbourne magic

Following hot on the heels of the Society’s first bottling of whisky from Australian distillery 148, Cask 148.2: Kirsch Me Quick landed with members Down Under in February. This bottling was aged for three years in a first fill ex-red wine barrique and bottled at 55.5% abv. The Melbourne climate provides a fast-tracked maturation process, while the angels’ share of evaporation is roughly 7-8% per year, compared to 1-2% in Scotland. Australia country director Matt Bailey and cellarmaster Andrew Derbidge sampled and mulled over 30 different casks before landing on the one that would become Kirsch Me Quick, with both 148 casks distilled, matured, sampled and bottled in Melbourne to the delight of our Australian members.

Virtual dramming

Iain Allen from Glen Moray distillery was the Society’s special guest for February’s virtual members tasting in the UK, as Mads Schmoll and Lee ‘Connas’ Connor introduced five amazing drams, including a 33-year-old dram from Distillery 35, Cask No. 35.304: Thine happy place.

Taking a stand in Glasgow

The Society was delighted to make our return to the Glasgow Whisky Festival in its physical form for the first time since 2019, with a packed stand over the course of two sessions at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park. Society members and their guests could also join a special ‘Pearl Dram’ tasting of three SMWS whiskies paired with oysters, with all money raised going towards supporting a Glasgow food bank initiative.

Aussie pub open again

Australia ambassador and country director Matt Bailey opened the doors to his branch’s virtual pub again in February, with members tuning in for an evening of music, malts and whisky chat, including appearances from Diageo’s Katie Nagar, Bladnoch distillery’s Will Pitchforth and others.

Austria does Burns

As we know, the celebration of Burns Night is a truly global event, and our Austrian branch got into the spirit of the occasion with three in-person member events as well as a Burns Night virtual members tasting – all accompanied by music, Burns poetry and a lovely dinner.

Star Drive winners

Congratulations to the winners of the recent competition to win a copy of SMWS founder Pip Hills’s book The Star Drive, with entries coming in from members across the world. Enjoy your read!

Charity tasting

The Society was delighted to sponsor a charity tasting held by our Belgian member Dirk de Meyer in February in Boom, Belgium. Dirk put the event together to raise money for a youth sailing club in Nieuwpoort which lost its clubhouse and boats in a fire. The Society’s contribution helped to raise almost €600 on the evening.