The Society is ready to let loose six exclusive festival bottlings. Spirits Manager Euan Campbell explains how we created them, and why you need to track them down.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was formed to celebrate the joy in sharing exceptional whisky – and there’s nothing quite like the festival month of May to demonstrate that our founding principle is not only alive and kicking – it’s bigger and more all-encompassing than ever.
A lucky few from our global membership will be heading to the different whisky regions in May to take part in tastings, dinners and parties, celebrating the contribution each of these areas has made to the wider world of whisky.
The Society will be there, of course, but we wanted to make sure that as many of our members as possible – whether they are physically present at the festivals or not – could get to share the experience in their glasses, wherever you might be.
An inclusive approach
With that in mind, we’re taking a different approach this year with our exclusive range of ‘Rare Releases’ festival bottlings, creating a series of six small batch single malts that we’ll be able to share in greater quantities across our global membership than we could ever hope to do with bottlings from a single cask.
And we’re not only celebrating the physical festivals taking place again throughout May this year in Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay. Even if the Highlands and Lowlands aren’t holding their own events, we didn’t want to neglect these regions, and have bottled single malts from both areas so that we can offer festival bottlings from across the five whisky regions.
All six whiskies are single malts from an individual distillery, bottled at their natural strength and across a range of flavour profiles – even the two Peated bottlings from Islay show distinct characteristics. In the development of each, we decided what flavour profile we were looking to showcase and then looked at how we were going to achieve it by working with loads of samples, nosing and tasting our way through them, grouping them and then deciding what we thought worked best.
We’ve been able to work with a wide variety of cask types to nudge our recipes in the right direction as well, and these small batch single malts are great examples of how that variety of wood types also helps to give us an infinite number of flavours to play with. That could be in some examples by getting the full impact of one cask type, or in others by using a mix of bourbon and sherry wood to create something completely different. Characterful spirit and characterful casks make for an incredible combination and helps us to continue to expand our horizons.
A festival within a festival
You can think of it as a ‘festival within a festival’, where we’re hunting down flavours and characteristics from across the regions. You can judge for yourself how typical or not they may be of the regions they come from – or whether that’s of any importance. What matters to us is that as many of you as possible, from Scotland to Australia, Japan to the United States and beyond, get the chance to share these sensational drams – and if you can’t make it over here this year, at least you’re getting a taste to transport you.
SMWS Spirits Manager
DISTILLERY 93 RARE RELEASE: Changes faster than a chameleon
In celebration of the Campbeltown Malts Festival 2022
»Campbeltown currently feels like a region in the renaissance, with news of new distilleries being planned, and we wanted to explore the town’s historic reputation for rich, characterful spirit. This is firmly in our Oily & Coastal flavour profile that is often associated with Campbeltown. There is no peat influence but still a coastal salinity, while the first fill bourbon barrels bring a lovely woody influence with vanilla and spice to balance everything beautifully.”
Order here (from 20 May 1 pm, for members only)
DISTILLERY 19 RARE RELEASE: Hazelnut bubble gum
In celebration of the Highland Whisky Festival 2022
»The whole notion of whisky regions is open to interpretation, but if you were to imagine a classic unpeated Highland style, then this is it – it’s in our Spicy & Dry flavour profile, with a rich mouthfeel and full of wonderful fruity esters.”
Order here (from 13 May 1 pm, for members only)
DISTILLERY 5 RARE RELEASE: LIME AND THYME
In celebration of the Lowland Spirit 2022
»This has everything you would expect of an elegant, older Lowland whisky – in this case it’s triple distilled, with narrow cut points and matured in active bourbon wood to bring a classic and delicious Sweet, Fruity & Mellow flavour profile.”
Order here (from 6 May 1 pm, for members only)
DISTILLERY 36 RARE RELEASE: A REWARD FOR PATIENCE
In celebration of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2022
»There’s a beautiful balance to this, which was first matured in bourbon hogsheads before we transferred it to 125-litre oloroso quarter casks that were supplied to us by our partners in Jerez, José y Miguel Martin. After that, we put it back into second fill bourbon barrels that we’d recently emptied, giving it time to relax and marry before bottling. The result is a superb dram with the big, dark and intense flavours you would associate with oloroso sherry maturation, but with the lush tropical notes from the bourbon casks as well.”
Order here (from 29 april 1 pm, for members only)