I’m not sure for how long I’ve been debating joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, but it is at least a couple of years. To be frank I’ve heard varying reports; some from long time ex-members who complain about the increasing cost of buying a bottle and annual membership. I take all this feedback onboard noting that we all have a fondness for the good old days, especially if we were actually there at the time.
Increasing whisky prices is unfortunately the era we currently occupy and is not just restricted to the SMWS in fairness. The initial outlay is £122 for which you receive the above pack and opportunity to visit various locations and enjoy the additional benefits of being a member. A couple of the critics I know were not in the vicinity of a branch so this would have limited the extra benefits they could receive and the apparent value. I’m fortunate that the Queen Street site is only a few minutes away from my place of work. In theory at least, I should be able to really appreciate these features more than some others.
Now this is the third whisky club that I’m a member of to date. The first was the Whisky Shop W Club offering that has never really been maximised to its full potential. The 10% discount is nice enough but when the retailer offers ‘tourist prices’, I have rarely taken advantage of this or the initial 20% feature. Recently the member magazines have dried up as have the competitions and website content. If the Whisky Shop really got behind this members club then they could do a whole lot more than I’m experiencing currently.
The second club is the Cadenhead’s offering which is more successful and pitched towards fans of whisky who find themselves visiting branches on a regular basis. It is a no-frills enterprise compared to the W Club with members receiving advance notice of releases with tasting notes. Each time you purchase a whisky your members card is stamped and as you complete each set with 6 stamps, you’re entitled to a bottle of the members only release later that year.
While you don’t actually know what is being bottled the debut offering was a decent aged Glen Keith example. And if you’re in the habit of purchasing regularly at Cadenhead’s then it makes sense – they have enough worthwhile releases to justify 6 stamps per year!
Included in the SMWS pack are 3 whiskies of varying ages in dinky 10cl bottles. They are on the small side, but I’m all for recycling and these sizes will come in handy. I’ll review the 3 examples before I start to take advantage of the monthly club releases members have access to and throughout the year expect updates on how the experience is unfolding.