Friday Lush: Whisky Galore
January 25, 2013
Posted in Friday Lush
Tonight is Burns Night so the Lush today had to be about whisky, it would be rude really if wasn’t.
I’ve mentioned the Scottish Malt Whisky Society before but it’s such a great institution, and one I was so surprised at loving as much as I did that I thought it would be perfect for today.
I always thought that I didn’t like whisky until my friend Sophia opened my eyes. She had a membership to the SMWS in Edinburgh and took me along as her guest for an evening. I loved it; the place and the whiskies.
OK, where to start with the SMWS? Think of a members club that is centered around one shared love, whisky in this case, and then dispel all the images you may have of a foosty, snobbish and antiquated members’ only club. Think instead rooms that are buzzing with life; all life too from young people playing cards in the corner to couples with their shopping stopping in for a dram on the way home to dinner dates in tuxedos and gowns. It’s friendly, there’s no snobbery around the whisky, it’s hands on and it’s OK to say that you haven’t got the first clue, ‘what do you recommend?’ That’s why I love it, it’s accessible. To someone who never in a million years thought they would be joining up to a members only whisky club it is a joy indeed.
The whisky comes from distilleries all over Scotland and some a bit further afield too. The distillery is not mentioned in as many words and it’s numbered instead. The whole cask is sampled and selected then bottled straight away and sold in the SMWS. The society selects and bottles around 20 casks a month and you won’t see the whisky that’s available at the Society anywhere else so it’s pretty unique.
I would love to meet the tasters who write the tasting notes for each cask because I think an evening in their company would be unforgettable. The notes speak of whisky tasting and smelling of bandages, Licorice Allsorts, TCP, sherbert fizzbombs, Christmas cake, burnt tobacco, marmalade, flowers, bicycle tyres, toffee, fresh linen, pure rock and roll, white chocolate, satchel leather, Elvis’s blue suede shoes – I may have made that one up but you get the picture. They have names like Keith Richards on a Sherbert Flying Saucer and Dab it Behind Your Ears, the tasting notes are a work of art on their own, and that’s before the warm glow engulfs you from the belly up after a first few sips.
There are tasting rooms in Edinburgh, in a beautiful large, light Georgian town house on Queen Street in the New Town or in Leith at The Vaults, the atmospheric 18th century home of the Society. There’s a SMWS in Hatton Garden in London too as well.
If a chance unfolds for you to visit then I urge you to do it. Even if you don’t like whisky, go! You might be surprised – and if you’re not, they sell wine and beer too…
Erm, the SMWS is not really anything like this but hey, slainthe mhath!