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SMWS whisky tasting sets world record

Edinburgh-based The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) set a world record for the biggest online whisky tasting this weekend, with drams shared in more than 15 countries.

SMWS members John McCheyne, and Madeleine Schmoll setting a Guiness World Record for the biggest online whisky tasting
John McCheyne and Madeleine Schmoll. Image credit: Mike Wilkinson

The club, which was originally set up by a group of friends in Edinburgh in 1983, celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday (30 September) by setting a Guinness World Records title for the most participants in an online whisky-tasting event.

SMWS is the world’s biggest whisky club, with nearly 40,000 members in more than 20 countries. The society is owned by the Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC). Earlier this year, it added a Taiwanese arm.

During the 45-minute event, 447 of its members tasted the same three drams of whisky simultaneously.

Participants joined from the UK, the US, Australia, Japan, China, South Africa and more. SMWS members in New York tasted their three drams at 9am, while those in Australia were tasting at midnight.

The event was live-streamed from The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh, the ‘spiritual home’ of SMWS. The first dram was introduced from Edinburgh by SMWS’ master brand ambassador, John McCheyne; the second from New York by Tom Smith, senior director of SMWS USA; and the third from Melbourne by Matt Bailey, director of SMWS Australia.

Madeleine Schmoll, event host and social media and community manager for SMWS UK, said: “We are delighted to announce that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has set the world record for the most participants in an online whisky tasting event.

“It’s amazing to see how far the society has come since the club was founded in Edinburgh by Pip Hills and a group of friends in 1983.

“With the society turning 40 years old, we felt this would be the perfect way to share in a very special simultaneous tasting.

“We are the pioneers of cask strength, full-flavour whisky that creates conversation – that’s why people become members – and the world-record tasting worked across time zones and countries to bring our members together. It’s a great example of what we are all about.”

The three whiskies tasted as part of SMWS' world record tasting
SMWS: a record-breaking tasting

The three whiskies tasted during the event were Cask No. 55.78 What a Spread!, a 13-year-old ‘rich and sweet’ bottling from a Speyside distillery, with tasting notes of ‘spiced toffee, crème brûlée and a touch of fresh oak’; Cask No. 39.244 Tutti Frutti in a Wooden Bowl, an 11-year-old whisky with an ‘oaky floral fruitiness’; and Batch 15 Smokus Fruticosus, a blended malt composed of whiskies from the islands of Islay and Orkney.

The event was witnessed by Christopher Coates, director and editor-at-large of Whisky Magazine, and chair of judges for the Icons of Whisky and World Whiskies Awards.

“It has been a joy to be a part of this momentous event, and to see people connecting with other whisky lovers from as far afield as Japan or Australia to celebrate some truly exceptional drams,” said Coates. “This is something that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago, and it’s a testament to how technology and whisky can bring people together.”

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