Scotch Malt Whisky Society toasts 40-year anniversary with world record tasting

Scotch Malt Whisky Society toasts 40-year anniversary with world record tasting

The tasting featured 447 members across 15 different countries

16 October 2023

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has celebrated its 40th anniversary by setting a Guinness World Record for the most participants in an online whisky tasting event.


Formed in Edinburgh in 1983, the whisky club has grown to almost 40,000 members across 20 countries, with 447 of its members across 15 countries gathering for the world record attempt on 30 September.


Overseen by an adjudicator from Guinness World Records, the whisky tasting featured three drams: Cask No. 55.78 What a Spread!, a 13-year-old bottling from a Speyside distillery; Cask No. 39.224 Tutti Frutti in a Wooden Bowl from the SMWS Juicy Oak and Vanilla flavour profile; and Batch 15 Smokus Fruticosus, a blended malt from the islands of Islay and Orkney.


Beginning at 2pm BST, the timing of the event meant that SMWS members in New York tasted their three drams at 9am, while those in Australia were tasting at midnight.


The 45-minute event was live streamed from the recently refurbished Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh. The first whisky was introduced by master ambassador John McCheyne, the second from senior director Tom Smith, and the third from SMWS Australia director Matt Bailey.


All 447 participants had to assure they attended on an individual device with the camera on and no other person visible on screen with them, as well as being present for the full duration in order to break the record.


Event host and SMWS UK social media and community manager Madeleine Schmoll 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 event was witnessed by Whisky Magazine’s editor-at-large, Christopher Coates, who said: “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. 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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