Wanna get a taste of the good life?
Start with a few sips of some nearly impossible-to-get Scotch.
Then, savor some equally amazing aged rums, Cognacs and American whiskeys — again, rare spirits that 99.9999% of the world will never have access to.
You’re tasting a sample of Single Cask Spirits, a new program from the world’s number one whisky society, now available everywhere. It’s bringing the best, and rarest, to your door.
Some background: SCS is part of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a members-only club that’s been specializing in (natch) single cask, single malt whisky since 1983. They’ve made their name partnering with over 100 Scottish distilleries, from Speyside to the Highlands, to bottle spirits straight from the cask — sans dilution, filtration or blending.
SMWS is currently the world’s leading whisky club (but still at a reasonable 27,000 members). Their tasting panel meets occasionally at The Vaults, their private venue in Edinburgh, to test out single malts that you’d never have access to on your own. From there, they curate a few special bottles for purchase through the society.
As the SMWS Chairman Paul Skipworth notes, it’s been about finding the “Mt. Everest of whisky,” or reaching the “apex of a spirits journey.”
For members, this means getting the rarest and best of a distillery, with an amazing story to go behind each dram.
single cask (3 images)
To add to the mystique, the Society doesn’t list the name of the distillery on their labels, instead using 12 proprietary “flavor profiles” and some fantastically inventive tasting notes to guide members. This also allows them to enjoy their tipples sans any pre-conceived notions (that said, there are Google-able ways to figure out what you’re sipping).
So as a member, you might receive something simply “Cask No. 37.84” which nets you a location, color, cask type, age, date ABV and an amazing descriptor like this:
After 12 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a second-fill Sauternes hogshead. The nose starts grassy and floral (pot-pourri, bath bombs), turns sweeter (vanilla slice, marshmallow) discovers citrus (orange peel, starburst) and ends with tobacco and leather. The palate is sophisticated but frolicsome, with perfumed, herbal elements, sherbet straws, mango and Mayan chilli-chocolate mousse – tree bark underpins everything. The reduced nose seems more refined – dried flowers, elderflower and roses in a wooden bowl; plus cherry liqueurs and cigar boxes. The palate becomes lip-smacking and tasty – with rhubarb and ginger jam, chalky sweets, walnut whips and a warm, spicy finish.
Drinking tip: A good dram to savour when needing to imagine new ideas or alternative scenarios.
Now, the Society is taking that know-how and applying it to other worthy, aged spirits in their Single Cask Spirits line. Cognacs and American whiskey just launched, with rum and Indian whisky slated for the next two months.
We tested out the first few single casks at the Brandy Library in New York earlier this month. And we weren’t disappointed — the American whiskey (nicknamed “Speakeasy sneaky peeky”) was the clear winner, and most likely hailing from Washington’s Westland Distillery (they wouldn’t admit it, but again, a little research helps.)
The Cognacs were all tantalizing, but the rum was the other surprise: Distilled in ‘91, the Trinidadian spirit was labeled thusly: “Vegetarians beware, as this is a meaty rum that packs a punch like a butcher’s wooden hammer.”
Who wouldn’t want a drink after that?
Memberships to the SMWA start at $99.