Scotch draws a wide range of fanatics — from the serious collectors to the ardent champions of particular distilleries. But any sound fan knows that the formality associated with the storied spirit is but a veneer. Scotch is so incredibly diverse that discovery is a hallmark of its appeal. You may be able to sample an array of drams at local whisky establishments, but the arrival of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) in Singapore brings an edge to whisky exploration previously unavailable here. SMWS has also launched regionally, in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
When asked about the viability of SMSW’s local launch, its business development consultant, Heidi Kluender Parlane commented: “We are delighted to launch SMWS’ new chapter in Singapore. This marks an important first step in introducing the Society to whisky lovers here in the heart of Southeast Asia”
The Edinburgh-based SMWS has two fronts, with one distinct focus. It is one of the most prominent independent bottlers globally, and is a members-only whisky club that zones in on single-cask, single malt expressions.
It curates and acquires some of the world’s most exclusive casks from 130 distilleries, creating whiskies that revolve around taste, rather than provenance and brand name. The cask is then bottled at natural strength, with no additives, artificial colouring, or water added — which means you truly are getting the purest essence of the spirit.
As a member, one gets access to taste and purchase these limited edition bottles. The Singapore arm has partnered with a fitting institution, The Single Cask at Chjimes, with Malt Vault as its official local distributor. More partners will eventually be announced. The SMWS Singapore website currently has 16 bottles available for purchase, with five sold out.
The beauty of being an SMWS member isn’t just the access one gets, but how the brand itself manages to inject a sense of curiosity and wonder in experiencing whisky. You don’t immediately know which distillery your whisky comes from, though you can trust that its origins are solid, given SMWS’ 35 year history in the independent bottling business. The only information provided on the club’s website is the spirit’s region, ABV, age, and brief tasting notes. Its green bottle is even more cryptic, as it’s only adorned with a cask number and an unusual name.
Whiskies given quirky monikers such as Carefree Contentment, Making Cakes By The Crackling Fire, and Shrimp A La Plancha. These names correspond with the taste profile of each expression. You sample each dram with very little information, which adds to the experience. Of course, you can easily do a Google search on the digits on the cask to identify the distillery, but that isn’t the whole point.
Membership begins at S$140 per year. This grants you the purchase of SMSW whiskies, members’ rates for its events and at its partner bars across the UK and Europe, and advanced opportunities to taste new whiskies. There is a pioneer tier at S$320 for the first year, which includes a Welcome Pack with limited release 10-centilitre bottles, a journal, and a lapel badge.
Those who have an discerning appetite for whiskies, and crave a novel gateway to its nuances can sign up here.