Five whisky mistakes and how to avoid them

Setting out on your whisky journey – or already some way along that path? Our national ambassador for the Australia branch, Matt Bailey, is here to help keep you on track with his take on how to open your mind and get the most out of your SMWS experience


In my travels as the ambassador for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I meet whisky drinkers from all paths, and at all different levels of experience. First-time whisky discoveries, people trying peated whisky for the first time, people discovering what different casks can do to different spirits, people tasting cask strength armagnac for the first time, and then of course rather experienced whisky drinkers and those who often like to preach great whisky to others (like me!).

ABOVE: Matt shares a dram with Society founder Pip HIlls at The Vaults in 2019

We always say that the Society is for everyone: it’s an open door to all who appreciate great flavour experiences at any stage in their journey of discovering great spirits. But sometimes even the most seasoned whisky fanatics make some mistakes that we really should clear up. So, here are my five areas where even the most seasoned whisky appreciator can still sometimes go astray.


Obsessing over closed distilleries

Preferencing ultra-high proof over lower

Focusing too closely on colour

Obsessing over cask type

Using age statement as the sole determiner of quality