Founded in Edinburgh in 1983, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has grown to become the world’s biggest whisky club, with almost 40,000 members in more than 20 countries across the globe.
On Saturday, 30 September, 447 of its members in more than 15 countries gathered online for the world record tasting attempt, which was staged to celebrate the Society’s 40th anniversary. Overseen by an adjudicator from Guinness World Records, the whisky tasting started at 2pm BST with participants around the world tasting the same three drams of whisky simultaneously.
The event featured whisky fans in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, South Africa, Hong Kong, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand, Mexico, Taiwan, and Korea. The timing of the event meant that the Society’s members in New York tasted their three drams at 9am while those in Australia were tasting at midnight.
The 45-minute event was live streamed from a newly refurbished The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh, the spiritual home of the Society. The first dram was introduced from Edinburgh by the Society’s Master Ambassador, John McCheyne; the second from New York by Tom Smith, Senior Director of SMWS USA, and the third from Melbourne by Matt Bailey, Director of SMWS Australia.
Each of the 447 participants had to attend the tasting on an individual device with the camera on and no other person visible on screen with them, and attend the full duration of the tasting in order for the Society to set the record.
We are delighted to announce that The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has set the world record for the most participants in an online whisky tasting event.
It’s amazing to see how far the Society has come since the club was founded in Edinburgh by Pip Hills and a group of friends in 1983.
With the Society turning 40 years old, we felt this would be the perfect way to share in a very special simultaneous tasting.
We are the pioneers of cask strength, full flavour whisky that creates conversation – that’s why people become members – and the world record tasting worked across time zones and countries to bring our members together.
It’s a great example of what we are all about.
– Madeleine Schmoll: Event host and Social Media and Community Manager at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society UK
It has been a joy to be a part of this momentous event, and to see people connecting with other whisky lovers from as far afield as Japan, or Australia, to celebrate some truly exceptional drams.
This is something that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago, and it’s a testament to how technology and whisky can bring people together.
– Christopher Coates: Director and Editor-at-Large of Whisky Magazine, and Chair of Judges for the Icons of Whisky and World Whiskies Awards
The drams sampled were:-
- Cask No. 55.78 What a Spread! – a 13-year-old rich and sweet bottling from a Speyside distillery, with tasting notes of “spiced toffee, creme brulee and a touch of fresh oak”
- Cask No. 39.244 Tutti Frutti in a Wooden Bowl – an 11-year-old whisky from the SMWS Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile.
- Batch 15 Smokus Fruticosus – a blended malt comprised of malt whiskies from the islands of Islay & Orkney.
About The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)
• The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and has 37,000 members around the world.
• It is owned by The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) plc
• The SMWS bottles rare single cask and single malt whisky, exclusive blends and a range of other Single Cask Spirits.
• The Society has bottled whisky from 180 distilleries from Scotland and beyond
• The Society offers a new batch of around 20 different single malt whiskies every month
• Members have access to four exclusive SMWS Members’ Rooms in Leith, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London along with a global network of 100 partner bars.
• The Society offers a variety of membership options that can be tailored.
• For more information about the Society, visit: https://smws.com/, Twitter: @SMWSUK Facebook: @thesmwsuk Instagram: @smws_uk
About The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC)
• The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) plc is based in Edinburgh
• The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC) plc is building a portfolio of premium brands that bring together some of the world’s best spirits producers with a growing movement of discerning consumers by curating unrivalled collections of craft spirits.
• ASC owns The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) and in 2021 it launched J.G. Thomson & Co. Inspired by its namesake, which was originally a wine and spirits merchant in Leith, Scotland, in the 1700s, J.G. Thomson is a new, adventurous blender, creating small batch blended malt whiskies, blended grain whiskies, rum and gin.