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 Gathering spirit

The Society put out a shout to members around the world to join our global Gathering – and we’re delighted to see so many answering the call. From Australia to Japan, China to the US, our members came together in real life and also online to celebrate our Society and a shared passion for incredible whiskies.

Highlights included a Gathering livestream from The Vaults, courtyard drams and special tastings in Leith and a special evening at WEST Brewery in Glasgow. Cheers to everyone for getting into the Gathering spirit – and see you next year!

Shanghai surprises

Our China team hosted nearly 70 members at their Gathering event, with a tasting across all 12 Society flavour profiles and two exclusive Chinese casks on offer. Cask No. 35.301: 蜂蜜与水果的华尔兹 (meaning a waltz of honey and fruit) and Cask No. 68.36: 儿时的小卖部 (meaning ‘a snack shop from childhood memories’) had been named by one of our members in China, who joined by video to talk about his inspiration.

Whisky and teatime

Members in London came together as part of our Gathering events for a special whisky and tea pairing, hosted by Médéric Hauchard from single-batch tea specialist Lalani and the Society’s master brand ambassador John McCheyne.

Both John and Médéric enjoyed an entertaining  and informative tasting with both SMWS and Lalani members, some discovering each other’s flavour experience for the first time.

This time there was a marriage of Highland, Island and Speyside whiskies with first and second flush Darjeelings, a very special tea from Japan that is actually grown in India, and the ever popular matcha – a very special experience in itself. Watch out for more pairings of whisky and single batch tea in London and other Members’ Rooms in the future.

Dram good time on Arran

A group of members who call our Bath Street venue in Glasgow home-from-home hatched a plan for a day trip to Arran at the end of August, after meeting up for a tasting of bottles from distillery 121. After an early start, the members were able to fit in visits to both the island‘s distilleries at Lochranza and then at Lagg, for an excellent tasting of a variety of the Machrie Moor bottlings, before wrapping up with dinner and drams in Brodick.

As Bath Street venue manager Calum Lawson said: “Some of the unlucky ones had to return to the mainland that night, but the rest of us stayed overnight. We had been brought together by our shared passion for single cask whisky and we were now saying goodbye as new acquaintances and already planning our next get-together at SMWS Bath Street.“

Germany meat-ing

Our team in Germany took the pairing of whisky and steak to the next level recently, with 28 members travelling to the Fries beef ranch near Nuremberg with ambassador Ralf Dänzer for a ‘Texas Longhorn BBQ’.

Following a tour of the ranch, Ralf paired up various SMWS bottlings with a selection of entrecote, flank steak, dry-aged ribeye, dry-aged roast beef and dry-aged pork. All members had the chance to choose their own combinations with bottlings from distilleries 46, 48, 55, 108 and rum R11.11 as well as the Cask No. R14.1: Treasure below decks, a stunning Guyanese rum from a distillery that closed in 2000 – the perfect match for various cuts.

“The combination of being able to enjoy great Society bottlings and food in a relaxed atmosphere, making friends and creating new networks showed that the Society is more than just a simple spirits company,” said Ralf. “It really proved the heart behind the Society as being ‘one of a kind’ and we hope to be back next year.”

Au natural in Italy

Italian members had a tasting with a difference recently, with a walk to a former peat bog in the Palude Brabbia nature reserve in Varese in northern Italy. It was the perfect setting to share a some Peated flavour profile Society drams, followed by a visit to the new MIS artisan distillery to witness the distillation of a batch of gin dedicated to SMWS Italy and the opportunity to taste their excellent products.

A Sense of Place with Dave Broom in the US

Over in the US, American members will soon get the opportunity to meet Dave Broom, author of A Sense of Place, as part of his US book tour next month. The evening events in Boston (2 Nov), New York (3 Nov) and Washington DC (5 Nov), will see attendees be guided through Dave's beautifully crafted narrative while enjoying six single malt whiskies from distilleries featured in the book.

A Sense of Place, is a personal journey exploring Scotland's whisky through its terroir- including the land, weather, history, craft, and culture that feeds and enhances the whisky itself. Read more about the book here.

Fair play in Australia

Our team in Australia was out in force at The Oak Barrel Whisky Fair in Sydney in September, with prime position on the main stage and a Vaults Collection bar, lounges and four ambassadors taking attendees through various Society malts and introducing others to our club.

Busy summer in Benelux

The Society has been out and about across Belgium and The Netherlands this summer, with appearances at festivals including WFT Whiskyfestival in Utrecht, Hielander Whisky Festival in Alkmaar, the Dutch Whisky Festival in Arnhem, the Kempenland festival in Geel and Whiskyfestival Spirits Inn Beringen. The team also held a special Gathering Benelux event at Whisky & Gin in Breda, where our flavour ambassador Gemma Damen encountered a full size image of herself. The Society’s partner bar at The Malt Vault in Den Haag is also sporting a lovely SMWS cask on its bar to celebrate our partnership.

Single cask safari

Our Austrian branch kicked off autumn with three different tastings, including a Whisky Safari in Salzburg zoo, where members got to try the new Austrian exclusive bottling for the first time. Other events were a tasting along with a tour of the Museum of Natural History in Vienna and a whisky and BBQ at St Johann/Rosental.