Private casks: The spirit of our society

As the Society enters its fifth decade, SMWS ambassador Lee ‘Connas’ Connor reflects on where we’ve come from, and how members can find themselves sharing the love with their own private casks ending up in our iconic green bottles.

In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of whisky, it’s nice to occasionally pause, take stock and reflect on this quirky club we’re part of. How it was born, how far we’ve come, and where we may be going.

In many ways it has been an unlikely success story. The Society was conceived at one of the lowest economic points our industry has ever experienced, we adopted a membership model that was highly criticized, then made the introduction of Members’ Rooms, started offering international whiskies, rum, cognac, armagnac and even gin into our offering.

Now we find ourselves at the forefront of an international success story, with what appears to be endless opportunities for whisky adventures at our feet and more than 41,000 members around the world.

The society’s essence

If we could distil and bottle the essence of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, how would the tasting note read? “A passionate yet quirky group of enthusiasts, analysts, mavericks and the curious, dedicated to the joy of exploring flavour.” Maybe something along those lines.

Putting a finger on exactly what makes us tick could perhaps be a task better suited to the pages of a philosopher’s dissertation. Nonetheless, we have something, and it’s something we all care deeply about one way or another.

Operations manager Gary McGrath inspects the bottling line at the Society’s Masterton Bond warehouse

Four decades of expertise

Obviously, after a 40-year history of buying spirit and offering our members some of the finest ever to be bottled, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has well-established contacts all over the world. Not only are we proud to be able to order spirit direct from a distillery and fill in to cask, we also take great pride in seeking out hidden gems that might be tucked away in old dusty warehouses, both equally playing a part in creating the whisky you drink.

What you might not know is that there is another way we come across casks …


That’s right, you. On many occasions since 1983, we have had members (and friends of members) sell us casks for bottling in our iconic green livery.

“Our members are at the centre of everything we do,” explains SMWS head whisky buyer Calum Lawson. “Not only when it comes to the bottlings we put out, but also in welcoming them to our Members’ Rooms, or engaging via online platforms. If you would love nothing more than to see your cask bottled as an SMWS release then please get in touch.

“We’ve had some very encouraging dealings with members in the past. And with our proud tradition of sharing great whisky with our community, it would be remiss of us if we didn’t engage with our membership on this as we continue to grow.”

Sharing the love

If you own a cask of whisky and want to play a part in sharing and enjoying its yield with our members, we can promise you:

  • It WON’T be entered into a portfolio and re-sold.
  • There with be NO third-party involvement.
  • It WILL go into a bottle and be appreciated.

If you want to share the love with your own cask, please get in touch with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Whisky Team at