About The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
"The people who said it couldn't be done were so dull" - Pip Hills, Society Founder.
Since we were formed in 1983, we’ve believed in doing things differently. As unconventional whisky experts we seek out whisky in its purest form, prize flavour above everything else and give each bottling a curious name. We’re united and constant in our passion – to share the world’s best whiskies, to bring them to life, and to make you proud to belong to the world’s most colourful whisky club.
The exploration of flavour and sharing our discoveries is what we’re all about. Our members enjoy exclusive access to whiskies hand-picked by our expert Tasting Panel, from over 140 distilleries in Scotland and beyond. We bottle them at cask strength and offer a constant variety. How you drink them is entirely up to you.
We don’t just bring you amazing whisky – we bring our members together to share their passion, at our Members’ Rooms, tasting events, festivals, and our network of partner bars around the world. That makes the SMWS the perfect place to start out on your whisky journey, or take it to the next level.
Like our whiskies, our 35,000 members in the UK and around the world are all together unique. Sign up now to join our family of whisky adventurers who appreciate that their whisky discoveries taste better when shared.
An unconventional club has unconventional beginnings. The Society’s started when our founder Pip Hills stumbled upon the delights of whisky drawn straight from the cask – undiluted and unadulterated. That was in the 1970s, when the whisky industry establishment considered such a spirit too quirky and challenging for delicate palates. Overlooked and unappreciated, it had been left to languish in warehouses across the country, unknown to the wider public.
Pip shared his discovery when those experts said there was no demand for it and watched as word of mouth spread. In 1983 he and his pals formed The Scotch Malt Whisky Society to share whisky in is purest form, and unite those of you with a passion for flavour, for variety, for fun….and for not always doing as you’re told.
You’re cooried in to the fireplace with the one you love on a chilly winter’s night. You’re surrounded by the sweet aroma of gorse bushes on a springtime stroll. You’re toasting a marshmallow over the embers of a mid-summer campfire at the beach. You’re walking through a pine forest after an autumnal rain shower, with the smell of petrichor in the air.
At the Society we love to explore flavours and share our discoveries throughout the year, with a new Outturn for members every month of whiskies hand-picked by our expert Tasting Panel.
More than that, we bring the whiskies to life with an ever-changing programme of stimulating tasting experiences. Ever tried whisky with a beer chaser, with an unusual food pairing, the perfect hot toddy, cocktail or a custom cask-matured dram?
We’re constantly serving up not only stunning whisky, but intriguing ways to enjoy the experience, where you can both learn more about our latest bottlings and share the love with your fellow members.
Our spiritual home is The Vaults in Leith, where we started out in 1983 in a historic but dilapidated building that you can still see at the heart of our Society monogram.
The building has now been beautifully restored, and as our membership has grown we’ve added Members’ Rooms at 28 Queen Street in Edinburgh’s New Town, at 19 Greville Street in London’s Farringdon district and most recently at 40 Bath Street in Glasgow.
The Society now has a presence in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the US. Each branch releases regular batches of new whiskies throughout the year and hosts events for members and non-members.
The SMWS has a growing network of international partner bars that have been exclusively selected to offer Society whisky. The partner bars provide a home from home for Society members and whisky lovers alike, offering a unique and extensive range of exclusive single cask offerings for you to indulge and delight in.
At the heart of our club are our members, who relish the endless variety of bottlings we offer and who know that their whisky discoveries taste even better when shared. There are as many reasons to join the Society’s family of whisky adventurers as there are aromas in one of our unique single malt whiskies.