SMWS Bottlings and the Codes They Use

We spoke of the brief history of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) in our previous article, and today, we are exploring the way they choose their casks as well as the interesting codes of their bottles. If you noticed the unique codes for each SMWS bottling and wonder what it all means, let us explore that together.

The SMWS’ Way of Choosing a Cask

Before we delve into codes, let us first look at how SMWS chooses its casks. SMWS appoints a “Tasting Panel” to select what casks to buy and bottle. The society acquires casks only after the tasting panel approved of the cask. In other words, the bottles that we bought off the website are tried and tested by the experts from the tasting panel.

The tasting panel consists of Society representatives who are either directly involved in the whisky industry or those who proved their knowledge of whisky. Besides tasting and approving casks to buy, the tasting panel also gives each expression an unusual and descriptive name. After their 25th anniversary in 2008, SMWS added mouth-watering tasting notes to depict the flavours of the whisky. An example of the unique name will be “Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream”. Someone who is drinking this expression is likely to find cherry and coconut notes in the whisky, and the liquid will be creamy to taste.

The Unique Codes of SMWS’ Bottling

After choosing the cask, the society bottles it and give the outturn of each expression an unique two-part numerical “identity code”. The first part of the code represents the distillery and the second part indicates the number of cask bottled from the said distillery. For example, 54.45 means the 45th cask acquired from distillery number 54. Every society bottling uses this numerical system. The reason behind this system is simple. Every single cask is different, and SMWS did not want whisky lovers to link the whisky to the distillery’s general profile before drinking it. By using a code, drinkers are more willing to try it without judging and in a way, makes every sip a blind tasting.

It is worthy to note that SMWS bottles grain whiskies as well as single malt whiskies. The grain whiskies are denoted by the prefix “G” in their cask number. There is also rum with the prefix “R” as well as American whiskey with the prefix “B”.

The List of SMWS’ Distillery Codes

The list of distillery codes grows ever longer with every new distillery that SMWS adds to its embrace. Here is a list of the codes that we know of.

Single Malts

Single Malt WhiskySMWS Code
Glenfarclas Distillery1
Glenlivet Distillery2
Bowmore Distillery3
Highland Park Distillery4
Auchentoshan Distillery5
Macduff Distillery (Glen Deveron)6
Longmorn Distillery7
Tamdhu Distillery8
Glen Grant Distillery9
Bunnahabhain Distillery10
Tomatin Distillery11
Benriach Distillery12
Dalmore Distillery13
Talisker Distillery14
Glenfiddich Distillery15
Glenturret Distillery16
Scapa Distillery17
Inchgower Distillery18
Glen Garioch Distillery19
Inverleven Distillery20
Glenglassaugh Distillery21
Glenkinchie Distillery22
Bruichladdich Distillery23
Macallan Distillery24
Rosebank Distillery25
Clynelish Distillery26
Springbank Distillery27
Tullibardine Distillery28
Laphroaig Distillery29
Glenrothes Distillery30
Isle of Jura Distillery31
Edradour Distillery32
Ardbeg Distillery33
Tamnavulin Distillery34
Glen Moray Distillery35
Benrinnes Distillery36
Cragganmore Distillery37
Caperdonich Distillery38
Linkwood Distillery39
Balvenie Distillery40
Dailuaine Distillery41
Tobermory Distillery (Ledaig)42
Port Ellen Distillery43
Craigellachie Distillery44
Dallas Dhu Distillery45
Glenlossie Distillery46
Benromach Distillery47
Balmenach Distillery48
St. Magdalene Distillery49
Bladnoch Distillery50
Bushmills Distillery51
Old Pulteney Distillery52
Caol Ila Distillery53
Aberlour Distillery54
Royal Brackla Distillery55
Coleburn Distillery56
Glen Mhor Distillery57
Strathisla Distillery58
Teaninich Distillery59
Aberfeldy Distillery60
Brora Distillery61
Glenlochy Distillery62
Glentauchers Distillery63
Mannochmore Distillery64
Imperial Distillery65
Ardmore Distillery66
Banff Distillery67
Blair Athol Distillery68
Glen Albyn Distillery69
Balblair Distillery70
Glenburgie Distillery71
Miltonduff Distillery72
Aultmore Distillery73
North Port Distillery74
Glenury Royal Distillery75
Mortlach Distillery76
Glen Ord Distillery77
Ben Nevis Distillery78
Deanston Distillery79
Glen Spey Distillery80
Glen Keith Distillery81
Glencadam Distillery82
Convalmore Distillery83
Glendullan Distillery84
Glen Elgin Distillery85
Glenesk Distillery86
Millburn Distillery87
Speyburn Distillery88
Tomintoul Distillery89
Pittyvaich Distillery90
Dufftown Distillery91
Lochside Distillery92
Glen Scotia Distillery93
Old Fettercairn Distillery94
Auchroisk (Singleton) Distillery95
Glendronach Distillery96
Littlemill Distillery97
Inverleven Distillery (Lomond)98
Glenugie Distillery99
Strathmill Distillery100
Knockando Distillery101
Dalwhinnie Distillery102
Royal Lochnagar Distillery103
Glenburgie Distillery (Glencraig)104
Tormore Distillery105
Cardhu Distillery106
Glenallachie Distillery107
Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery108
Miltonduff (Mosstowie)109
Oban Distillery110
Lagavulin Distillery111
Loch Lomond Distillery (Inchmurrin)112
Braeval Distillery (Braes of Glenlivet)113
Springbank Distillery (Longrow)114
Knockdhu Distillery (An Cnoc)115
Yoichi Distillery116
Cooley Distillery (unpeated)117
Cooley Distillery (peated)118
Yamazaki Distillery119
Hakushu Distillery120
Isle of Arran Distillery121
Loch Lomond Distillery (Croftengea)122
Glengoyne Distillery123
Miyagikyo Distillery124
Glenmorangie Distillery125
Springbank Distillery (Hazelburn)126
Bruichladdich (Port Charlotte)127
Penderyn Distillery128
Kilchoman Distillery129
Chichibu (Japan)130
Hanyu (Japan)131
Karuizawa (Japan)132
Westland Distillery (USA)133
Paul John (India)134

Grain Whisky

Grain Whisky SMWS Code
North British DistilleryG1
Carsebridge DistilleryG2
Caledonian DistilleryG3
Cameronbridge DistilleryG4
Invergordon DistilleryG5
Port Dundas DistilleryG6
Girvan DistilleryG7
Cambus DistilleryG8
Loch Lomond DistilleryG9
Strathclyde DistilleryG10
Nikka Coffey Grain (Japan)G11
Nikka Coffey Malt (Japan)G12
Chita (Japan)G13
Dumbarton DistilleryG14

American Bourbon Whiskey

American Bourbon Whiskey SMWS Code
Heaven HillB1
BernheimB2
Rock TownB3
F.E.W DistilleryB4

Rum

Rum SMWS Code
Port Morant (Jamaica)R1
Demerara El Dorado (Guyana)R2
Mount Gay (Barbados)R3
Angostura (Trinidad)R4
Appleton (Jamaica)R5

We hope the list will help you to know more but do remember, do not judge the whiskies by the general characteristics of their distilleries, as it can be very different from what you expect. Instead, read the tasting notes and taste the whisky to find out if you love it!

 

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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)

 

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) landed on Singapore’s shores some time ago. It was a joyous moment for many of us as we finally get a chance to be a member of this esteemed whisky society. As we journey along with SMWS for these months, we discovered that not everyone knows how or when SMWS started. So, today, we are sharing a brief history of SMWS for all to enjoy.

The Birth of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

When we speak of SMWS, we think of Phillip “Pips” Hills and his travels around the Scottish Highlands in the 1970s. Due to his experience of tasting whisky directly from the casks during his visits, he fell deeply in love with whisky. His experiences changed his life forever, especially after he convinced his whisky-loving friends to jointly buy a cask of whisky from Glenfarclas distillery in 1978.

As the years passed, the group expanded into a syndicate where more people joined the group and purchased casks together. As the members continued to grow, they bought and bottled more casks from different distilleries and distribute these bottles to all the subscribing members. After five years, the Society is large enough to purchase their first property – The Vault – in Leith. The Vault comes with a set of vaulted wine cellars said to be from the 12th century.

The year 1983 marked the closure of many whisky distilleries in Scotland. It was a low point in the history of whisky. Many great distilleries like Port Ellen, Glenugie and St Magdelene closed down in 1983. It was this year that the founding members of SMWS decided to open their membership to the wider public as they can finally welcome more members with their ownership of The Vault. Therefore, SMWS was founded in 1983, as it was the first year that the society opened its doors to the general public.

The Ups and Downs of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

After the founding of SMWS in 1983, the society grew by leaps and bounds as more people joined the community. The Vault serves as the member’s second home, where several members’ rooms are available for use by only the members of SMWS. In 1996, the society launched a share scheme to purchase a second property in Greville Street, London. After that, SMWS bought a third property – a Georgian townhouse on Queen Street, Edinburgh in 2004. With three venues, the society grew strongly in numbers, and they purchase more casks than ever before. SMWS then caught the eyes of Glenmorangie PLC, which bought the society in 2004.

2008 marks the 25th anniversary of SMWS. The guiding members of SMWS decided to celebrate the occasion by redesigning the label to include more information and tasting notes on the front of the bottle. Things continue to run smoothly, and by 2015, SMWS was once again, acquired by private investors. SMWS remains as the property of these private investors today.

The Membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Only members of the society can purchase SMWS’ bottlings. Becoming a member is easy. Choose from the basic membership at SGD$140 or the membership pioneer at SGD$320. Both memberships come with the following benefits:

  • Exclusive access to purchase whisky and spirits from SMWS.sg
  • Members rates for all SMWS events
  • Members rates at all partner bars across Singapore, UK & Europe
  • Advanced access to all new whiskies (Outturn)
  • Exclusive access to member venues
  • Free subscription to our award-winning magazine
  • Membership Card

The membership pioneer has the additional exclusive welcome pack:

  • Three limited release SMWS 10cl bottles
  • SMWS Journal
  • Club lapel badge

If you are happy to get the membership without the welcome pack, the basic membership is good enough for you to gain access to the SMWS bottlings. However, the exclusive welcome pack is choked full with goodies, so if you are keen to explore SMWS and have a deeper pocket, why not try the membership pioneer?

Locations of SMWS Bars in Singapore

There are currently two SMWS member bars in Singapore – The Single Cask and The Wall SG. If you want to check out new bottlings from SMWS, visiting either bar will be a good choice for you to taste some excellent whiskies from SMWS. New members can also head over to The Single Cask to collect your membership card and pick up any bottles that you purchase online.

Members can access SMWS bars in other countries. Besides the three member-bars in the U.K, there are bars in Australia, Austria, Benelux, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the U.S.A.

SMWS Moving Forward

We hope to see more bottlings from SMWS coming into Singapore in the future as we move forward together as a nation to appreciate whisky. We believe that with SMWS coming onboard in Singapore, more people will get to try whiskies straight from the cask and at cask strength too!

In our next article, we will speak more of SMWS bottlings and the codes on their bottles.

 

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Whisky Review #84 – Bowmore 14 Years – Cadenhead

Cadenhead is well known to everyone, and there is no need for us to do a further introduction. Cadenhead bottles some of the most excellent whiskies in their series of Cadenhead Small Batch and this bottle under review is one of them.

The bottle is a Bowmore 14 years old in a dumpy bottle. It looks gentle and invites the drinker to taste it. So we took the bait and ordered a sampling of this expression.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: White Wine
ABV: 46%

Nose: Gentle spice floats into the nose before zesty citrus fruits follow. Green fruits develop after a while and add complexity to the nose. We detect zero peat at first, but light peat begins to surface after about 15 minutes of airing. (16/20)

Palate: Sweet, zesty, citrusy fruits explode in the mouth with some gentle spice in the background. Slightly lemony with no smoke or peat initially. A soft peat surfaces after 15 minutes of airing and lingers at the back of the throat. It feels like having a cigar at the back of the throat, in a pleasant way. (17/20)

Finish: Medium long at first with fruity sweetness. The impressive punch of the finish comes after 15 minutes of airing when the finish lengthens stunningly, and it becomes fragrant peat smoke all the way! (17/20)

Body: A relatively balanced dram but it can be better. I wonder if the flavours will be stronger if the abv is higher? The liquid improves with 15 minutes of airing and expands beautifully after that. Perhaps it will benefit from more oxidation in the bottle. (33/40)

Total Score: 83/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: My impression of Bowmore is that of gentle peat. This expression is entirely consistent with my idea of a Bowmore, but I feel it could be better if the abv is higher. It is likely that the whisky is too watered-down for the flavours to develop fully. Lots of patience is needed for this dram. 

Geek Choc: I cannot taste the peat. It is not something a peathead will be happy with, but I guess it improves with airing. Love the explosion of smoke and peat after 15 minutes of airing. 

 

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Whisky Review #83 – Port Charlotte 2002 – MoS

Malts of Scotland (MoS) is probably not a stranger to you if you are a fan of independent bottlers. MoS is a consistent award winner as an independent bottler and has won many different awards across the whisky industry. The most prestigious of all awards is likely the “Independent bottler of the year”.

Thomas Ewers heads MoS and earns the reputation of a “whisky talent” at a young age. His first foray into whisky was in 2003 when he had his first single malt. The second dram of a 10-year-old Aberlour sealed his fate as a whisky lover and eventually an independent bottler.

The bottle under review today is a Port Charlotte distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013. Matured in a bourbon hogshead, it has been known to give rise to tasting notes such as “baby vomit”, “rotten milk” and “spoiled milk” at the bar where we had this.

With such a fascinating reputation, let us get started to see if we can find the “baby vomit”.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber
ABV: 57.4%

Nose: Smokey and sweet. Dark, dried red fruits with smoke. It is gorgeous indeed. The nose boasts of notes typical of a sherry cask, but this is a bourbon hogshead! Isn’t that amazing? Raisins, dried figs, stone fruits are all presented in the nose. Sweet and beautiful indeed! (17/20)

Palate: Sweet and flavourful, with smoke in the background developing beautifully as we drink. Raisins, sultanas, figs and cranberries combined in a sweet and fruity palate. Hints of raspberries are detected in the back of the throat. That sourness from the raspberries may be the answer to the “baby vomit” and “spoiled milk”! (18/20)

Finish: Long and smokey! Cranberries and raisins linger forever and ever. Gets a little dry after a while and almost feel like an elegant, old red wine. (18/20)

Body: This is balanced brilliantly. The smoke is consistent from the nose to the finish. Add the raisins and dark fruits, and you get a divine drink! (36/40)

Total Score: 89 points

Comments:

Geek Flora: Well, well, well, this is an exciting tasting of a Port Charlotte. I like the uniqueness of this whisky, and it is an excellent example of how independent bottlers can make a whisky better.

Geek Choc: I must be honest and say that I am in the camp of those who think of “baby vomit” when I tried this PC. Not my favourite for sure. 

 

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Whisky Review #82 – Littlemill 22 Years Old (WhiskyBase)

 

Some of you may know that I have a strong love for Littlemill. I never passed a chance to try new expressions from this closed distillery. I was again, given an opportunity recently, when I got to taste a Littlemill.

This expression is distinctive on its own. It is a bottling from WhiskyBase, in celebration of their 40,000 bottles on the wall. Matured in a bourbon hogshead, it is a 22 years old whisky distilled on 20th Dec 1990 and bottled 10th Feb 2013. Not quite a 23 years old whisky, so as per SWA’s rules, its label reads 22 years old.

Let’s dive straight into the notes!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright Gold
ABV: 56%

Nose: Hmm…a typical Lowlands nose with aromatic dried grass. Floral and perfumey, almost like sniffing a particular brand of perfume. Sweet pears, melons and berries dance gracefully in the nose. Warm spice lurks underneath, waiting for its turn to dance. (18/20)

Palate: Sweet fruits – pears, apples, melons and berries – explode in the mouth. The sweet overtones bounce all over with warm spices catching up in the background. The floral, grassy notes come last, rounding up the perfect and typical Littlemill notes. Warm spice tingles in the back of the throat pleasantly. (18/20)

Finish: Medium finish with dried grassy notes that become herbaceous after a while. Sweet and perfumey all the way, the finish boasts pleasant spice that lingers comfortably while it lasts. (17/20)

Body: This is a typical Littlemill that boasts the usual grassy notes, but what is worth noting here is that instead of the fresh grass that we usually find in Littlemill, this expression features grassy notes of dried grass! The fruitiness is beautiful and welcoming to anyone who is a Lowlands fan. Excellent mix of spice, fruits and grassiness to make an unforgettable whisky. While it does not have the most exciting profile, it has the strength of the character from Littlemill Distillery. (37/40)

Total Score: 90/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: I love this! It features the characteristics of Littlemill without taking on too much character from the bourbon hogshead. I simply adored the grassiness of this dram!

Geek Choc: Well, it is nice, but I think I prefer something a little sweeter. A bourbon hogshead is too mild for me. Maybe a sherry cask Littlemill will do the trick! 

 

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