Tom Smith

SMWS United States

First whisky memory

The savoury taste of my grandfather’s scotch‘n’soda at the age of six or seven. He’d let me steal a sip when my parents weren’t looking!

Favourite whisky-drinking music

Whisky & jazz is a natural pairing and I tend to go in that direction when enjoying a dram. More in the John Coltrane and Billie Holiday vein but all standards are welcome, from Duke Ellington to Dave Brubeck. When I really want to transport myself to bonnie Scotland, the lovely fiddle of Alasdair Fraser does the trick nicely.

Best box set

The Grateful Dead’s From the Vault. The evolution of their live music over time is something to behold. Each show is its own unique experience and you can listen to the same song over multiple shows and never hear the same version twice. If you haven’t tried them out, a Society dram is the perfect accompaniment to falling down a Grateful Dead rabbit hole!

Fantasy whisky tasting companions

Imagine a tasting table with Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, William Faulkner and Kurt Vonnegut. That’s a gaggle of chaps I’d love to discuss the nuances of Society whisky with. Also would love to travel back in time to the very first Tasting Panel meeting at founding member Pip Hills’ kitchen table! That would be equally incredible.

Most memorable dram

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some extraordinary whisky over the years. But most memorable? Cask No. 37.75: Heady, aromatic and tongue-tickling was the very first Society dram that touched my lips. I still remember that profile so clearly and knew things would never be the same after that.

Guilty pleasure

Eating buffalo wings while watching the Jason Bourne dynasty (that’s right, I said dynasty).

Dream destination

Island hopping from Shetland down to Arran filling my boots along the way! While I’ve had the pleasure of Islay and Jura a few times, there are so many other majestic places I’ve yet to explore.

Strangest food

Smoked puffin. I do not recommend this Icelandic delicacy.

Favourite bar Society partner bar Jack Rose Dining Saloon, in Washington DC. Its enormous selection makes this a literal destination for whisky lovers around the world. The highly informed and informative staff makes it a trip to remember. And the whisky wings are pretty good, too.

If you were a flavour profile, what would you be, and why?

I have always loved the Oily & Coastal flavour profile for drams that convey complexity, salinity, freshness and verve. If you talk to my wife, she might tell you I can be complex (code for ‘pain in the ass’), salty (if things don’t go my way) and full of freshness and verve (when things do go my way). So there you have it!