SOCIETY HOMES FROM HOME
From speakeasy barbershops to candlelit bank vaults, there’s something for everyone at a Scotch Malt Whisky Society partner bar. Find your nearest Society watering hole or see how many you can tick off on your next holiday. There are many great ways to indulge in a Society single malt, and each partner bar offers a completely different and memorable experience, as Duncan Gorman explains
The SMWS has a growing network of international partner bars that we have exclusively selected to offer Society whisky. The partner bars provide a home-from-home for Society members and whisky lovers alike, offering a unique and extensive range of exclusive single cask bottlings for you to indulge and delight in. Each bar is handpicked to make the Society’s unconventional and unique nature shine through. With around 150 bars in more than 21 countries, no two are the same, and each offers a memorable venue to enjoy whisky in its purest form. But not any old pub can be picked…
NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL
There is no real definition of what a Society partner bar should look like, in fact it’s quite the opposite. From big or small to fancy bright lights or downright dark and dingy, partner bars can take any shape or size. What’s most important is the spirit and feel of the venue and its people, making the reason for its selection much more than just appearance.
Beneath Driver Lane in Melbourne, Australia, is a venue that perfectly encapsulates the Society’s unconventional character, illuminated by candlelight and crafted inside the walls of an old bank vault. “For all my bars I’ve never actually come up with an idea before finding the space,” says owner Hamish Goonetilleke. “There has to be some sort of ‘organicness’ about the business feeling right in the space.” Adam Ioannidis from the SMWS Australia team continues: “Organic is the key word, as Beneath Driver Lane is an effortless experience from start to finish. Wander along Driver Lane and you’ll find a door, and behind it a short staircase leading to a basement. The descent allows your eyes to adjust to the ambience that awaits. An automatic door opens and you’re greeted by about 100 candles casting a yellow haze over the exposed-brick walls and floorboards.”
ABOVE: Beneath Driver Lane
SPEAKEASIES TO DIVE BARS
Parisian speakeasy Gentleman 1919 transports visitors back in time where they can feel trembles of the notorious Volstead Act, which brought prohibition to the USA. Visitors can get a short back and sides courtesy of the retro barbershop posing as a cover-up at the front of the venue. A sliding door hidden at the back leads you to a bar and cigar lounge where you can enjoy a spectacular Society dram.
If you thought that all Society partner bars were fancy and upmarket then you’d be wrong. Owner of Feel die Beate in Graz, Austria, Mischa Mendlick, admits that his venue is “in a shady part of town”, but that only adds to the deep-rooted character of the experience. The minimalistic and softly lit space serves as a cosy refuge from chilly winter nights as well as a striking example that Society partner bars really can pop up anywhere.
FIND YOUR FAVOURITE
So why not discover your home-from-home and take a gander through our worldwide list of Society watering holes? It’s a great chance for non-members to embrace their first encounter with a Society dram and embark on their never-ending flavour journey.
Although no bars sell by the bottle, some venues offer a 10 per cent discount to Society members, so be sure to remember your member’s card. Keep an eye out the next time you travel because you’re never too far from a Society watering hole. See how many partner bars you can tick off and let us know your favourite.
The SMWS network of partner bars covers the UK and across the world. Find the complete list at smws.com/venues/international-partner-bars