SMWS Membership Part 1 – Dissecting the Pack

Like many whisky lovers I had heard good things about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and when Mrs ANoseforWhisky enquired if there was anything she could get me for Christmas, I dropped a pretty big hint that a membership would be nice. It was still a pleasant surprise to find a green box waiting for me on Christmas morning.

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In the box there was a mini book, three 10cl samples, a lapel pin, a voucher for £10 off one of the full size bottles and an envelope containing a code to activate your membership online. The presentation is very nice and it really is a great present if anyone is thinking of picking one up. I may be a bit geeky, but the first thing I did is read through the book. It is teeming with factoids and history about both the SMWS and whisky in general. For anyone who doesn’t know them, the SMWS are both independent bottlers and they run private members clubs in London and Edinburgh. I work near the London venue, so for me, membership has both the advantage of access to great whisky and the venue.
Activating my membership was very easy and a few days later a membership card arrived. They also send members a quarterly magazine. I read the first issue cover to cover. The content is about whisky in general as well as the SMWS. It’s not as thick as some of the other Whisky magazines out there, but it is still a worthwhile read.
A couple of weeks later I decided to dig into the samples. One of the unique factors about the SMWS is that they use a numbering system other than naming the distillery. However, a quick visit to google shows a list of distilleries so I soon found out what I was getting. They bottle at cask strength, all their whiskies are un-chill-filtered and they don’t add any colouring. They have a naming system for the bottles based on the tasting notes, so they end up with some pretty quirky bottle names. The whiskies I received and my tasting notes for them are below. I’ve been told they do change regularly so another pack may contain something completely different. Apparently the samples in the box are often from bottlings specifically for new membership packs and I couldn’t see full size bottles of any of them on their website, which is real shame because I would love to get my hands on more of the Longmorn.
65.75 – Forest of Fruits – 12 Year Old – Mannochmore – 60.8%
I got citrus, sugar and ginger on the nose. With water it opened up some strawberries for me. I tasted brown sugar and spice, as well as ginger and pepper. With water it brought out more pepper and in particular white pepper. The finish for me was sweet and peppery. This was an OK whisky, but not really to my personal taste.
76.100 – Cherry Walnut Loaf – 19 Year Old – Mortlach – 58.1%
The nose on this was ginger nut biscuits, vanilla, caramel, orange and rich fruit. Maybe cherry, but I had to hunt for it. With water all these aromas were sweeter. This is a rich fruit cake of a whisky, there is cherry and spice, with undertones of ginger. With water this got both spicier and sweater imagine uber-fruitcake soaked in caramel. The finish was long and mellow, with both fruit and caramel. This was a fantastic whisky and I really wanted to get some more of it, I will be keeping my eye out for more SMWS releases from this distillery.
7.90- Welcome Home – 21 Year Old – Longmorn – 54.9%
For the nose I got sweet candied oranges, with caramel and spice. Water made this grainier and I think there was porridge with honey. There is also a hint of lemon meringue pie. This is one of the smoothest and fruitiest whiskies I have ever had. It was pure Christmas cake in a glass. There was treacle tart there and orange. Water brought out more of the dried fruits like prunes. The finish was rich and warm, with a bit of spice. This was a superb whisky and I would buy it again without hesitation. This is truly one of the best whiskies I have ever had.
So overall this is a great pack and I am very happy so far. I’m going to follow up this post with some of my other SMWS experiences with their bottles, venues and a tasting event I’ve attended. I’m off to Edinburgh in a few weeks so look out for some experiences from there.

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