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Scotch Malt Whisky Society - is it worth it ?

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society - is it worth it ?

Postby bamber » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:02 am

I was thinking about joining - any thoughts on whether its worth it ?
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Postby Argyll » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:46 am

:(

I used to be a member several years ago as there quality was second to none - buying an SMWS bottle meant buying something intriguing and superb. Unfortunately that quality dipped and while the period where Arthur Motley was working there things did turn for the better - I was thinking of rejoining - his departure and subsequent bottles have led me to believe that the club is now a rip-off taking its many 'occasional' drinkers for a ride.

Why join a club when you can walk into any Cadenhead shop and actually try before you buy most of their malts, or go into any good specialist shop and get an educated opinion on what to buy - chances are you will not only save the joining fees and yearly costs, but you will get better quality whisky cheaper.

And unless you live in Edinburgh (or London) you aren't going to get any real benefit from their bars.

Hope this helps.

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Postby bamber » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:16 am

Thanks Argyll,

To be honest, this was my susipicion. I live in Bristol and they have a tasting event coming up. I'd really love to chat to other whisky lovers in person, but being so far from London it's unlikely I'll get much benefit after that event. Furthermore it will end up costing me £100 for one evening tasting 6 whiskies.

Ah well - I'll probably have to wait for the next big event.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Nov 17, 2004 5:29 pm

I live quite far from all the venues, in Canada, but have had nothing but a positive experiences with the Society. The selection of malts has been very good however the availability of older whiskies has not been as plentifull during the last few years. This is now starting to improve.

Each to his own but I really enjoy the Society & it's whiskies.

I encourage you to at least go to a tasting before you make up your mind.

I'm also a big fan of Cadenheads but I've had problems buying bottles of my favourites as they're always sold out when I visit.
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Postby bamber » Wed Nov 17, 2004 6:56 pm

Thanks for your input - I will certainly keep it in mind
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Postby Frodo » Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:42 pm

Funny you should bring up this topic - I've been considering joining one myself. For me, the payoff would be social. If you want a place to go where others are also whisky enthusiasts, you need to factor this into the cost as well.

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Postby Spirit of Islay » Wed Nov 17, 2004 8:50 pm

Been an "Occasional" drinker , i find the SMWS extremely good value for money , never have i thought of been taking for a ride . In fact i found it a very good place to try whiskies i would never have had a chance to anywhere else . Lately , they've had a hell of a range on offer ...Croftengeas , Talisker 15yo , 38 and 34yo Glenfarclas's , a superb choice of Islays . We have 4 tastings a year available in our area and are within easy reach (100 miles) of the Vaults . Now even my wife has joined and is really getting into the Single malts ( :shock: ).
As for been able to try cadenheads bottlings before you buy , i bet you can't walk into their shop and try anything off the list (i couldn't with the last Ardbeg !) .
IMO the SMWS is well worth the money and a good way of discovering Malts .
After all where else would you get a 38yo Farclas for £120 ?
Argyll isn't a certain Scottish author is he ???? :D :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Pipe and dram » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:31 pm

I also live in Canada and have been a member for a few years. Although I cannot purchase whisky overseas, I do visit the member's room in Leith when we go to Scotland. There you can sample and buy their excellent whiskies. I truly enjoy sipping away in the members room and you always meet other people who are there just for the whisky. An added benefit for us is that they have three flats to stay in - just above the members room. They are large, satisfactorily furnished and reasonably priced. We stay there when we go to Edinburgh and now they have a new member;s room and flats at Queen Street, downtown.

They also have a decent newsletter so,I for one, will continue to be a long distance member.

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Postby Admiral » Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:56 am

The Society launched in Australia in Nov/Dec 2002 and I was one of the first to sign up. Being on the other side of the world, we obviously don't get to visit the members rooms in Edinburgh, etc, but our local directors have developed a programme that seems to suit our calendar and climate.

I enjoy the regular meetings - we have about 4 or 5 tasting nights a year where (in Sydney, at least) between 30 and 50 folks gather to sample 5 of the Society's latest bottlings. Most evenings will also feature a presentation or display, and it's always a good-humoured and relaxed night.

In my opinion, the general overall quality of the bottlings have been excellent. Some are just good, others are absolutely sensational. I've probably sampled over 25 different bottlings by now, and I don't recall being disappointed by any. Others were so good, I couldn't buy a bottle fast enough.

It's important to remember how and why the SMWS came into being - it was chiefly to bottle single casks and to appreciate just how individual and different a single cask from a certain distillery can differ so much from its commercial bottling.

My one and only gripe is the cost of the bottlings. Even though they are all at cask strength, even the youngest bottlings (e.g. a 9yo) sell for at least $155 (Australian dollars). By comparison, an OB 17yo Bowmore costs $120, Lagavulin OB 16yo costs $85, and an OB Macallan 18yo costs $135, so the SMWS bottlings are not cheap.

However, they are unique; good quality; non-chillfiltered, non-coloured, and offer the discerning malt drinker the chance to drink from distilleries that are otherwise not bottled as a single, or have closed, or to simply try an alternative expression of your favourite malt.

Cheers,
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Postby bamber » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:34 am

Thanks guys - I think I will join afterall. Argyll I take your views on board and heed your warning !!
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Nov 20, 2004 6:35 pm

Pipe and Dram, do you ever buy from the US branch of the Society that is based in Florida? One of the advantages of membership is that you can purchase from any branch in the world. I frequently buy from the US and Swiss branches and have friends and family bring them home for me. My father finds it very amusing that bottles of whisky turn up when he's on vacation, he always says "I have two bottles of Dewars for you' or 'Two bottles of scotch arrived, we enjoyed them a lot." He never touches scotch.


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Postby hophead » Mon Nov 22, 2004 9:20 pm

I have been a member of the SMWS for two or three years now and have had nothing but good experiences with them. The whisky is not cheap, but you are purchasing a whisky that is unique. The minimum price in the US is $85.00 which is about what a bottle of 18 year old Macallan sells for on sale.
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Postby bamber » Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:18 am

I've just joined and plan to go to the bar in London this weekend to celebrate my best friends first child :)

I turned doen the introductory bottle but have ordered tickets for a tasting in Bristol in December, and hope to find something I like there.
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Postby bamber » Mon Nov 29, 2004 3:54 pm

Went to the bar this weekend and tried 8 of their whiskies (6 scotch 2 bourbons). BTW that was between 4 people !

All really excellent and all very different. Pretty good value for money too. Everyone was drinking bourbon when we walked in ! I look forward to going there again sometime soon.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:52 pm

OK.....I knew the SMWS had bottled both Irish and Japanese whiskies, but bourbon???????????????

Do you recall which distilleries they were from?
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Postby Frodo » Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:28 am

Erased. Wrong thread.

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Postby Lawrence » Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:30 am

The latest bottling list from Leith lists, I think, Heaven Hill cask 7 and Elijah Criag cask 8. They are using their usual non specific guess-if-you-can descriptions. They have bottled some bourbon in the past but I've not had the opportunity to keep track since whenever I'm there I'm focused on scotch.

Although in August I did drink a lot of a Japanese malt.

I'll look back through the past bottling lists and see if I can find any other descriptions.
Last edited by Lawrence on Wed Dec 01, 2004 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bamber » Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:53 am

Admiral wrote:OK.....I knew the SMWS had bottled both Irish and Japanese whiskies, but bourbon???????????????

Do you recall which distilleries they were from?


They were both Heaven Hill.

The 14YO was really fantastic and the tasting notes spot on. In fact it is one of the best bourbons I've tasted. No more left to sell on web and I am really kicking myself about not buying a bottle.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Nov 30, 2004 6:00 pm

Bamber do you know what other bourbon distilleries the Society has bottled?

Thanks for the info that they were both Heaven Hill.

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Postby bamber » Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:50 pm

Hi Lawrence,

I don't know for sure, but I got the impression off the barman that they had *only* bottled Heaven Hill up to this point. Given the high quality of what we sampled on Saturday, I would just so love to try other American distillery offerings.

BTW, I don't know if you've picked up JM's Whisky Bible 2005 (another great book), but it has a high review of a 12YO HH bottling by the SMWS.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Dec 01, 2004 4:08 am

Is the 2005 edition of the Bible out already? We haven't heard anything about it in this neck of the woods. :(

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Postby bamber » Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:40 pm

Thought that might catch your eye Admiral :)

Its been out a while, I had no idea but someone mentioned its impending release, in the US, at straightbourbon.com. Went to the shop and there it was.

He's released it 2 months early in time for Xmas. There are 750 new tasting notes, the rest being identical to last year.

I don't need to tell you all to 'go get' as JM says of some whiskies.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Dec 01, 2004 5:43 pm

I've been waiting for it to be released, thanks for the heads up, I just ordered it. I really enjoyed the 2004 edition and I'm hoping this will compare favourably
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:(

Postby Amir » Mon Dec 06, 2004 9:44 am

i can't join the SMWS because im under 25 (21)... :x


4 more years... 4 more years... 4 more years... till then im hunting cadenheads 8)

why is the age standard so damn high for the SMWS US club? 21 and over is what it takes to drink here anyway...
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Postby bamber » Mon Dec 06, 2004 11:01 am

Seems very strange - still they don't ask for a birth certificate ;)
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Postby Admiral » Mon Dec 06, 2004 11:58 am

Sounds very odd indeed.

Do other international branches of the SMWS stipulate higher age requirements than the legal limit permitted by the country in which it operates?

You'll have to come south, Amir.....here in Australia, the legal age for drinking is 18, and I'm not aware of the SMWS requiring anything different.

(Although it must be said, the vast majority of members are on the other side of 50!! Makes me feel very young!)

Cheers,
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Dec 06, 2004 5:35 pm

I suspect that the SMWSA is covering it's bases with such a high age requirement becasue they ship all over the USA and each state has a different minimum legal drinking age.
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Postby mr_a_non » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:47 pm

I'll certainly add, from personal experience, that in the UK, membership is open to anyone over 18. I grant that it seems very odd to set the age of entry to 25, especially when you consider how the market understands it must aim at the younger consumers.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:58 pm

Amir, I phoned the Society and they told me that if an individual is of legal drinking age in their state and under 25 then the Society requires a copy of your drivers License proving your age (21). Then will then accept your membership and ship to you. But you have to be of legal age and over 21, I suggest you give them another call and try again.

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Postby Amir » Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:50 am

Lawrence wrote:Amir, I phoned the Society and they told me that if an individual is of legal drinking age in their state and under 25 then the Society requires a copy of your drivers License proving your age (21). Then will then accept your membership and ship to you. But you have to be of legal age and over 21, I suggest you give them another call and try again.

Lawrence


THANK YOU LAWRENCE :D gosh if only most people could be as hard working as you! 8)

now for my 2nd issue with SMWS.... how will i get the money :lol:

but thanks again :)
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