Cast your mind back, if you’re old enough, four decades to 1983. That’s the year The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was founded, against a backdrop of distillery closures, a ‘whisky loch’ of blended spirit that couldn’t be drained, and an industry that showed little interest in single malts, and even less in single cask whiskies.

It took a rebellious attitude to challenge the status quo, something the Society has been doing consistently over 40 years. Throughout 2023 we’ll be bringing you events and whisky to celebrate our anniversary. So bookmark this page to regularly review and see what’s happening.

Since we started out with a single cask, shared around with a few curious friends and their empty lemonade bottles, the Society has always had a mischievous, maverick streak. A thirst to break with convention. To go our own way. To do what we enjoyed, and not what we were told. To shake things up and never be boring. Why be serious when you have seriously good whisky?

Our 40th year sees us celebrating our founder and ‘Maverick-in-Chief’ Pip Hills, going back to our roots and igniting the Society’s original mischievous spark. Here’s to 40 years of whisky adventures, and many more ahead!



Our bespoke Maverick artwork was created by Glasgow-based artist and graphic designer Andy Rogerson. This unique bottling is part of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 40th anniversary celebrations.


The ‘New Wave’ celebrates new distilleries and hidden gems – it’s a symbol of everything that the SMWS is all about.

Our original spirit dating back to 1983 was to celebrate access to new experiences – and to help out, we brought back the original house illustrator to marry up that original spirit with a new wave of bottles.

Trying new whiskies has always been part of the endless discovery journey for Society members, and that’s as true today as it has ever been. Our ‘New Wave’ is a look forward, with an interpretation of flavour by our old master, Bob Dewar, on each bottle label. ANNIVERSARY CASE

In 2023, we celebrate 40 years of our Society. In 1983, a man called Pip brought people together over whisky with unadulterated flavour. In hindsight, he said: “The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull.”

Today, each of our 150+ distillery partners has a number, playing a part in a flavour story. This collection is dedicated to a coming-together of unique tastes and people – carrying the reference from distilleries 1, 9, 8 and 3, in celebrating of our birth year. We still believe: all that matters is flavour.

Created by the team at design agency Frank, the numbers on the bottle pay tribute to the founding year of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 1983 and the distillery coding system that is unique to the SMWS.


Head of whisky creation for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Euan Campbell, shares his inspiration behind this years Rare Release whisky festival bottlings.


What on earth possessed us to take a cask of whisky at 10 years old and throw in a tray of Scotch bonnet chilli peppers? The story goes back to a previous Society experiment, when we matured whisky in casks which had been used to ferment and age Tabasco® pepper sauce.

Julien Willems reports on the spark of maverick inspiration behind the release of our Exp.01 that dates back more two decades.

Who better to collaborate with on the release of our Exp.01 chilli-infused spirit drink than a ‘Thrill Engineer’? Brendan Walker brings a heady mix of art and science to his work, from engineering the euphoric rush of a roller coaster ride to the psychotropic thrill of combining Scotch whisky and Scotch bonnet chilli peppers.


Society founder Pip Hills is marking the 40th anniversary of the club he formed with an updated edition of his book Maverick – The Founder’s Tale, which covers everything from the origins of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, his exile in the mid-1990s and finally returning to the fold five years ago. Unfiltered editor Richard Goslan caught up with Pip at The Vaults to find out more from the Society’s original maverick.

The World’s Biggest Virtual Whisky Tasting

We’ve only gone and done it! The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most participants in an online whisky tasting event.

On Saturday, 30 September 447 members in more than 15 countries gathered online for the world record tasting attempt as part of our 40th anniversary celebrations.

The three-dram tasting was hosted by Mads Schmoll, Social Media and Community Manager with the drams presented by Society Master Ambassador John McCheyne, Tom Smith, Senior Director of SMWS USA, and Matt Bailey, Director of SMWS Australia.

A huge thank you to all of our members in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, South Africa, Hong Kong, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand, Mexico, Taiwan, and Korea for your support in helping us make history.


This year we’re celebrating 40 years of creating exceptional flavour experiences as the original pioneers in single cask, limited edition cask strength whisky releasing Cask No. 12.79 from our birth year 1983.

This whisky has been nurtured by our Spirits Team over the years, destined to express the epitome of our legacy while highlighting our expertise in maturation.

A Year in Review