Bought: SMWS, 27th October 2015
85.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
Well, I finally did it, I joined the ‘Scotch Malt Whisky Society’ (SMWS). I’d been considering it for over a year but I didn’t know how long my whisky interest would continue, or if £130 for the initial annual membership fee was worth it. I did my research and concluded that bottles by the SMWS aren’t ideal for a collector but much better for the drinker. Hmmm….but I’m a collector first and foremost so what convinced me to join? The society has an excellent reputation for picking good distillery examples and always at cask strength, unchillfiltered and natural colour. £130 might seem a steep joining fee but you receive a nice membership box with three 10cl bottles (which must be worth £40) and any purchase thereafter comes with free postage. When I joined there were 14 different cask strength bottlings under £50 in the online SMWS shop, and always with an age statement.
My first bottle had to be a Highland Park, which has a society code beginning with the number 4 (which denotes the 4th distillery the society worked with). The list is quite easy to find online. This HP has been given the title ‘The Cinderella Cottage’ which is a bit bonkers but wait until you hear the description on the bottle:
“Our travellers arrive at the chilly coastal cottage, it has been lying empty with damp plaster walls and sea salt encrusted windows. Old cinders lay in the grate so the weary crew lit the fire with heather and peat. They speared sausages with rosemary sticks and grilled them, skin splitting, on the open flames with green tomatoes. From their provisions they cobbled together a makeshift feast of prawn crackers, dimsum and tempura shrimps with sesame seeds. They baked apples in the embers, crispy skinned, and finished their pudding with dough balls. Warm and fed – what a transformation!”
Creating a story to present the tasting notes is certainly unusual but quite intriguing. This Highland Park comes with the drinking tip of “Friday night session dram in a cold climate”.
Here’s Jo of ‘Whisky Wednesday’ and his first review of a SMWS bottle where the membership is also discussed: