NEW SOCIETY BRANCH
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is marking its 40th anniversary with the opening of a new branch in South Korea, where it is ready to cater for a growing group of whisky lovers across the country
The SMWS has partnered with drinks importer and distributor FJ Korea in Seoul to bring the Society’s unique offerings of endless varieties of single cask, cask strength whisky to the Korean market. Company CEO Brian Sun, director Kwang Hyun (KH) Kim and senior manager and mixologist Bon Kim visited The Vaults at the end of June to meet the SMWS team, visit our Members’ Rooms and share their thoughts about the burgeoning whisky scene in Korea.
“The perception of whisky has really changed in Korea in recent years,” says Bon. “In my work as a barman I’ve noticed the people who appreciate whisky are now younger and there are more females enjoying single malts and also whisky cocktails. Young adults often enjoy whisky as an aperitif to a meal, then something sweeter with the meal and a whisky on its own to finish the evening. The variety of bottlings on offer from the SMWS is hugely appealing.”
ABOVE: a tasting event at the South Korea branch
The branch is certainly off to a flying start in South Korea. The SMWS Korea website launched on 11 April and sold out of its initial offering of 300 memberships within an hour, with the branch’s first three bottlings snapped up on day one. The team have been holding regular tastings to introduce Society whisky to members. And FJ Korea have already set up relationships with three partner bars in Seoul, where SMWS members can enjoy a 10 per cent discount and there are around 20 Society bottlings available in each.
As for the future growth of the SMWS Korea branch, Brian says the most important factor is to develop gradually and keep members satisfied with a sufficient offering of new Society bottlings.
“We decided to limit membership numbers for now until we have enough bottlings available,” he says. “We’ll gradually increase the number of members and there’s already a waiting list to sign up.”
In the meantime, whisky education is a key point of offering for the Korean branch.
“There’s a huge demand for knowledge about whisky,” says KH. “We consume quite a lot of whisky but most people haven’t paid much thought to what it is they are actually drinking – we’re hoping to provide that level of education and feed the appreciation of fantastic single cask, single malt whisky.”
PICTURED (left to right): Bongha Kim, Kwang Hyun (KH) Kim, and Brian Sun