So what happened in the SMWS?

First of all, there are no pictures. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, being a members club, has certain rules and one them is ‘no electronic devices in  the members room’. Clear and understandable. You don’t pay for the privilege of going there just to be hit by a camera flash every time another member brings a guest.

Our evening started off with a rather well structured tasting conducted by Nick, a man of knowledge and eloquence. He managed to combine getting across a bulk of basic information for the first timers (whisky is made of barley, you should smell it before you drink it) with fun facts and in-depth whisky chemistry/physics chat. A couple of well timed jokes were a cherry on the cake for us. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

The formal tasting was followed by a Q&A session, rather long and intense considering the fact that most of us hadn’t had a dinner and were looking to get some homemade haggis or fish cakes in. I think a tasting with random members of the public wouldn’t have counted if Nick hadn’t been asked about his favourite whisky. A pro that he is, he went on a rather well-rehearsed spiel many diplomats would be proud of, explaining how it depended on mood, time, occasion etc.

And then guess what. He was asked again. By the same guy.

And that wasn’t quite it yet. Exactly the same gentleman wasn’t having any of Nick’s diplomatic leave-the-brands-alone impartiality. His next question a minute or so later was ‘why is Oban so crap?’-  This time Nick had to take initiative (we were getting hungrier by the minute) – ‘When was the last time you’ve tried it?’… ’35 years ago’ – the answer rang. A few faces dived into hands to hide wide grins, some just laughed overtly with no consideration as to the old man’s feelings. Someone was shaking an invisible can of spray paint.

The rest of the evening was spent in the actual members room, where most of our party hadn’t been before. I could hear a good few OMGs when we went in. But the true treat were the leather sofas and chairs, officially the most comfortable in the entire world. We took full advantage of the SMWS’ selection of food, whisky and beer and passed our time discussing various issues, such as:

“Is our system of value perception in-built and a direct response to our basic needs or is it a social anomaly that is unnatural and therefore thoroughly harmful?”


“Should we or should we not go to The Espionage afterwards?”


Big thanks to everyone who showed up. The tasting was a touch more expensive than our normal 4x35ml for a tenner, but it seems you enjoyed it as much as we did. The place is worth it.

Also a huge thank you to Doug, Nick, Craig and the rest of the Vaults team. You were spot on, dealing with you is always a pleasure.


PS. Of all the excitement I forgot to write about the whisky! We had 9.45; 13.40 and 33.69. What were they? I’m not telling.

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