Single Cask Search
Indians love their whisky is a well extolled fact. Taking a cue from this, Ashwin Deo, MD of Trinity Vintners got the UK based Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) to add India as a chapter to their 17 outposts. He speaks to Indian Wine List about what the society is all about.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was formed in 1983 when a group of people who shared a passion for single malts came together in UK. This isn’t just an ordinary club, association or a society. They have privileges – tying up with 129 distilleries from Scotland and beyond, 20 single casks are selected every month, bottled and sent out across the world for SMWS members to relish. And you will never know if it comes from your favorite whisky producer; these bottles have no names, instead they have codes and quirky tasting notes. It is a guessing game to figure out where the cask and whisky came from. Variety is one of the elements which makes SMWS unique. “The idea not to name the distilleries is simple it will lead to typecasting based on what is available in the market. Instead we have codes – number allotted to each distillery and the cask,” Deo explains.
In India, SMWS launched end of March this year. What made Deo so sure that this was the right time to introduce the society here? In the last five to eight years there has been a noticeable change in the consumption patterns of whisky. People are moving upwards from whisky to scotch to aged scotch to single malts. “It is a segment which is growing rapidly, especially if one looks at the duty-free sales at the airports. And the nature of this consumer is such that he doesn’t stick to one brand; he tries different brands and is always interested in variety. And with such discerning consumers in India growing, it made sense to have the India chapter,” he says. He adds that a lot of SMWS India members are already members of the UK chapter.
The society is currently active in Pune and Mumbai. By the end of this financial year Deo plans to take the society to Gurgaon, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chandigarh. There are 160 members of the society today and not all are residents of Pune and Mumbai. “We have members enrolled who are from Rajkot, Coimbatore, Goa amongst other places,” Deo elaborates.
SMWS has tied up with JW Marriott in Mumbai and Pune and Indigo Colaba in Mumbai to offer some of society’s whisky experiences. It is a part of the SMWS set up globally. Deo will soon tie up with two more hotels in Mumbai to offer SMWS experiences to the city. “I want different areas of the city covered, without having members travelling long distances,” he explains. Members and non-members both can partake of promotions like food pairing with a whisky flight. Advantage of being a member is that you get a special rate for these promotions and can purchase a bottle for your own. Non-members will have to be satisfied with servings by the dram. Members can also opt for a tailor-made SMWS program for a private or corporate events.
For SMWS India chapter, Deo has introduced 16 whiskies already ranging from a nine year old to a 39 year old. Deo is vehement that the age has nothing to do with the quality of these whiskies. “In a tasting, it is about which whisky will stand up to the previous one. It is about the taste and aroma,” he adds. There are 10 new single cask whiskies that are already on their way, and this is something that the members can look forward to every four-five months.
Membership costs Rs 19500 excluding taxes and it can be renewed at Rs 10000 excluding taxes and it includes a membership kit with four (10cl) Society regional selection of single cask, single malt whiskies; Society Members Handbook and Notebook; Society Membership Card and Lapel Badge along with it you have access to buy SMWS rare whiskey bottles, discounts on SMWS products in partner bars, exclusive usage of Member’s Room Worldwide and SMWS printed reading material.