New look for an old master
Many have waited anxiously over the summer months in anticipation of seeing the transformation of the Society’s spiritual home, The Vaults. The time has finally come for us to reveal the changes to our historic Members’ Room where the SMWS began 40 years ago. Discover what you can expect on your next visit to Leith with Society writer Duncan Gorman
ABOVE: A quote summing up the maverick attitude of the Society from founder Pip Hills is engraved into the new bar at The Vaults
Perhaps the most noticeable change as you enter The Vaults for the first time after its refurbishment is the new bar. As the crown jewel of our beloved Members’ Room, the bar has had a stylish re-design. The towering bottles will no doubt draw eyes from across the room, leading members’ attention towards a quote imprinted high upon the centrepiece, which reads:
“The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull.”
The words come directly from SMWS founder Pip Hills, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of the Society back at the time of its inception in 1983, which is still alive and thriving today. In another tip of the hat to the Society’s beginnings, the bar has also been relocated to the centre of the southwest wall, the original position of The Vaults’ wine sampling bench in the early 1980s.
ABOVE: There is more space for bottle sales in the reception area at the refurbished Vaults
PICTURED: the main bar now has pride of place at the centre of the southwest wall
In preparation for The Vaults’ refurbishment, it was important to hear from our members about what mattered most to them. A common feature was the value members found in their interactions with staff, another reason for the relocation of the bar which now allows much easier access and communication from all around the room.
The research also showed one well-loved feature of The Vaults was the ceiling artwork that was created by Bob Dewar, the Society’s first illustrator, during the 1990s.
Untouched throughout the works, these illustrations have found a new lease of life, with the refresh offering much improved lighting for members to enjoy Bob’s incredible illustrations in full.
Also at a better viewpoint is our collection of first release .1 bottles. As the first ever bottlings released by the Society, this collection is the rarest of the rare and offers a fascinating insight into the Society’s early days.
PICTURED: Society members in the Tasting Room at The Vaults
Our iconic green bottles have also been carefully positioned around the revamped Members’ Room, with a beautiful new space on entry to allow people to comfortably browse, discuss and taste our range of around 2,000 bottles.
The refurb has also seen the installation of The Last Drop, a tucked-away whisky snug where six to eight people can appreciate a precious dram in a cosy space.
ABOVE: The Last Drop is the new cosy snug area
Finally, we also worked with Shona Hardie, local painter and muralist from Edinburgh, to design a bespoke piece of artwork and encapsulate the Society’s character. Her piece, entitled Endless Discoveries, Infinite Adventures was inspired by a range of bottling names important to the team at The Vaults, and helps portray the incredible range of flavour notes in our whiskies.
We hope to see you soon at the new-look Vaults – a historic building with a bright future under The Scotch Malt Whisky Society!
PICTURED: Vaults Members’ Room manager Kyle Gow