Winter months really call for whisky, don’t you think? Not only will a wee dram warm you from inside out, but it will also bring friends together. During this dark and cold season, we should make more time for friends and family, as everyone needs a bit of cheering up in winter. What better way to do so than share unique drams together.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is perfect for that, and they want to encourage people to share the Society with others. Whether you are a member or not, you can share experiences at the Society’s many venues. Their range of whiskies is adventurous and unique, offering a lot to talk about. You can find a dram that is only available for a short period of time and is not tied to each distillery’s signature style.
I was in Edinburgh recently as some of our friends were visiting from the US. And as I’m such a huge fan of the Society, I sought the opportunity to share a whisky experience with them at Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar, where they have the world’s widest selection of exclusive single cask whiskies available. I booked us for a cheese and whisky tasting, because, well, who doesn’t love cheese?! Christmas time is the perfect excuse to eat cheese whilst warming up with a set of drams.
Our tasting was hosted by Jeremy, who knows everything about whisky and loves to share all the information with you. He’s the perfect host whether you are a newbie and want to learn the basics (my friend actually asked if they add fruit in the cask to give the whisky that tropical flavour…) or you are a pro whisky drinker and wish to focus on something specific.
All my friends were accustomed whisky drinkers, but they hadn’t participated in a tasting before, so this offered them a great chance to ask all the questions they always wanted to know about whisky (even those silly ones…).
We started with a Welsh whisky, Fruity Delight (first-fill ex-bourbon barrel), which was the fruitiest dram I have ever encountered. It pairs well with milder cheese and cream cheese. This was followed with a dram of Quantum Endramglement (refill ex-Guyanese rum barrel) and we finished off the tasting with mighty peaty Tea-Smoked Salmon (second-fill Oloroso Hogshead). The rum-cask-aged whisky was beautiful, with coastal elements and delicious flavours. A must-try!
Jeremy guided us through the tasting; first neat, next with a drop or two of water to open up the flavours, then on to the next one, and finally, after trying all three drams, we tried them again to see if there was any change in the flavours. Also, on the last tasting round we paired each dram with a selection of cheeses. Can I just say, strong blue cheese and peated whisky is an AMAZING combo and should be included on everyone’s Christmas menu! It will definitely be on mine!
If you are looking for something fun and different to do with friends or family leading up to Christmas and NYE, I truly recommend heading to your nearest SMWS venue or partner bar and share whiskies and stories! Below I have listed a few of the events taking place this month in various locations within the UK. The Society has several venues worldwide, so if you are based elsewhere you can check what’s happening near you from here.
Cheese & Whisky Drop In Sessions every Tuesday at 6pm, all tickets £15
A Night From A Bygone Era 6th December at 7pm, all tickets £35. ONLY 4 tickets left
Marking 86 years since prohibition ended, the SMWS will be taking you back to the 1920s. Enjoy classic cocktails, whisky and canapés while listening to tales of moonshine and the origins of the cocktails we drink today.
Life Begins on Friday, every Friday at 7pm, all tickets £20
Informative three dram tasting.
Saturday Treat, every Saturday at 4pm, all tickets £30
Three drams aged over 20 years.
Steak and Whisky Tasting, 14th December, 12.30pm, all tickets £30
Presenting three single-cask drams from the Society and serving a succulent steak to soak up all the alcohol. Educational, yet relaxed.
It’s a Wonderful Life, Friday 20th at 7pm, all tickets £20
During this tasting you will learn about whisky production and what contributes to the final flavours we love.
January Outturn Preview tasting, 30th Dec at 7pm, tickets £35
The new outturn is going on sale on the first Friday of the month, and this tasting covers these new and exciting single malts. Members and their guests only.
Hogmanay! 31st December, tickets £125 for members and their guests
Plenty of food, Champagne and drams to be shared. End the night with a good old ceilidh.
Advent Calendar, 10th December at 6.30pm, tickets £33 members, £38 guest
Choose five drams from 24 bottles. Mingle and chat with your fellow whisky lovers.
Last Chance Saloon, 16th Dec, tickets £33 members, £38 guest
Last chance to sample some of the special bottlings. You can choose up to five drams from these rare gems.
Christmas Shopping, 7th Dec 12–4pm, tickets £20 members and their guests, £25 non-members
The legendary ambassador Les Harrow is returning to Manchester and he’s bringing at least 12 different expressions for you to try! You will receive five tokens so you can try a range of old and new whiskies on the day.
Christmas Shopping – as above.
14th December, tickets £20 members and their guests, £25 non-members
The SMWS annual membership includes:
- Member-only access to around 20 new whiskies and other spirits each month
- Access to exciting tasting events
- Free subscription to an award-winning members’ magazine, Unfiltered
- Bring up to three guests to four Members’ Rooms in Edinburgh and London
- Discounts on drams at all SMWS partner bars around the UK and worldwide (see the list here)
- Free postage and packaging to most UK addresses
- Discounted bottles
All this for £85 a year. It really is a great deal, as normally members-only clubs tend to cost you an arm and a leg… You can get 10% off until 31st December 2020 with code INKA10.
Do you normally enjoy whisky during Christmas time? Any favourite whiskies to share with friends?
Disclaimer: This post has been created in collaboration with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. As always, all words and opinions are my own.