Here to help
With so much variety, picking the right bottle for yourself, or as a gift, can be a challenge as we approach Christmas. Fear not, there is plenty of help at hand at the Society to help you navigate our weekly releases in the UK and find the perfect present
WORDS: RICHARD GOSLAN
If you’re fortunate enough to be close to one of our Members’ Rooms in Edinburgh, Glasgow or London, our bar staff and ambassadors are more than happy to provide guidance and a wee sample. Remember, there may also be bottles behind the bar that aren’t available online. Pop in and see Gregor at The Vaults, Sarah at 28 Queen Street, Calum at 38 Bath Street in Glasgow and Simone at 19 Greville Street in London and their teams for suitably expert advice.
ABOVE: Calum and the Bath Street team
THE GIFT OF MEMBERSHIP
What better way to share your passion for the Society than with a membership for friends or family? Choose from a range of add-ons to get your new member off to a great start with the SMWS. https://smws.com/whisky-club-membership
Our wonderful DRAM-Cierge team has recently expanded to help more members out with their queries and are putting in additional hours in the approach to Christmas, available throughout December from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, on +44 (0)131 555 2929 and at 0131 555 2929 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
We asked our team for their own favourite festive memories, and how they enjoy their whisky at this time of year. Here’s what they told Unfiltered:
Helen Trotter (Scotland)
In Scotland it’s well known that we love to celebrate Hogmanay and welcoming in the New Year with a dram. We also love our Steak Pie dinner on 1st January – a cosy, satisfying and (sometimes) homecooked meal to kick the New Year off. After enjoying this, a lovely warming dram from the Old & Dignified profile would be the ideal way to kick back, relax and watch some classic Scottish comedy.
Trine Berg (Norway)
In Norway, or at least in our house, one of the most popular Christmas cookies are ‘pepperkaker’, or ginger thins (much like a ginger biscuit but with more of a snap – more peppery too), which pairs wonderfully with a Society whisky from the Spicy & Sweet flavour profile. If you want to know how to taste these without baking them yourself, you can find them at Ikea (of course) or Scandi Kitchen in London.
ABOVE: Trine Berg
Anja Binder (Austria)
In Austria we celebrate ‘Heiliger Abend’ on Christmas Eve, when the ‘Christkind’ comes in the evening, instead of Santa Claus in the morning of the 25th December. The room with the tree is closed off from the 23rd so the Christkind is not disturbed, and we wait until a little bell rings so we can enter the dark room. The only light comes from real candles on the tree, and I get a surprise every year to see what the tree will look like and what colour scheme the Christkind has chosen before exchanging gifts. A favourite recipe for me is for eggnog with a whisky twist – perfect with a Peated flavour profile or a Sweet, Fruity & Mellow dram for additional sweetness. Even better with some apple strudel!
ABOVE: Helen Trotter
500ml milk; 1tbsp vanilla sugar ; 3 egg yolks; 200g sugar; and 350ml whisky or cognac.
Bring the milk with vanilla sugar to the boil and chill. Stir three yolks until fluffy and gradually stir in the sugar, whisking in the sieved cold milk drop by drop and finally pour in the whisky or cognac. Can be stored in a cool place for up to one year.
ABOVE: Anja Binder
ABOVE: Judit Sineger
Judit Sineger (Hungary)
In Hungary, we have a tradition to hang sweets on the Christmas tree, called ‘szaloncukor’. They have different fillings but my favourite is the poppyseed-filled one (from the chocolate-maker Stühmer), which pairs beautifully with a Society whisky from the Young & Spritely or even better with the Lightly Peated flavour profile.
Helen Brownless (Ireland)
In Galway in the west of Ireland, the Christmas Day tradition is to jump into the Atlantic Ocean from the Blackrock diving tower. You can, of course, have a swim once in the icy water but the majority quickly make it back to shore for the comfort of towels and jumpers. Naturally, nothing will warm you up better afterwards than a whisky or brandy, taken either neat or splashed into your morning coffee. You feel you truly deserve all the trimmings of Christmas dinner after this bracing activity.
Jamie Brown (Scotland)
When I was a child my mother and father would leave mince pies and a dram of whisky for Santa on Christmas Eve. In the morning, to our astonishment, all that was left were some crumbs, an empty glass, some sooty footprints, and a small piece of “beard” that looked suspiciously like cotton wool. I hope Santa considers how much he is drinking when riding his sleigh!
ABOVE: Jamie Brown
ABOVE: Helen Brownless