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The world's best whiskey is ... in Japan?
History[ edit ] The origins of the Society lie in Phillip "Pip" Hills' travels around the Scottish Highlands in the late s, during which he sampled several whiskies drawn straight from the cask. Over time, the group of friends expanded to become a small syndicate and more casks were purchased, bottled and distributed to subscribing members. Coinciding with the decision to open membership to the wider public in , the Society purchased its first property, The Vaults, in Leith ; a building, whose vaulted wine cellars reputedly stretch back to the 12th century. The Society created a set of members' rooms there. In , the Society launched a share scheme for its members, the proceeds from which were invested in the purchase of a London venue. Membership[ edit ] To buy whisky bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, it is necessary to be a member. Membership in the UK costs either of two prices: Members are required to pay a smaller annual renewal fee every year to retain membership — the cost of which varies depending on type of membership and location. New members receive a membership pack containing 3 sample bottles of Society whisky and various other items including a Members' Handbook and Notebook, a lapel badge and membership card. Membership entitles members to buy Society whisky and also gives members access to its private members' venues along with the ability to bring 3 non-member guests , and the opportunity to buy tickets for various tasting events. The events are held at is members' venues and also at other non-Society venues around the country. Members also receive a quarterly publication called Unfiltered — an award-winning  magazine that keeps them up to date on Society news, plus articles from the wider whisky world. Locations[ edit ] The Society has three Members' Rooms in the UK, where whiskies are sold by the bottle or for consumption on the premises by the dram. The Society also operates two non-member bars under the Kaleidoscope brand. There is a Kaleidoscope bar situated on 28 Queen Street in Edinburgh which sits along side the companies' members only bar. The second Kaleidoscope venue is based in Devonshire Square in central London. The Tasting Panel also gives each bottling a whimsical set of tasting notes which provide an indication of what flavours and textures the drinker can expect. Each bottle is also given a quirky and descriptive name - such as 'Kissed up by sweet promises' or 'Intense menu of seduction'. The resulting 'outturn' of each cask is given a unique, two-part numerical identifier, representing first the originating distillery and second the individual cask from which the bottle was taken. Society bottlings are always referred to using this numerical code, rather than by the distillery name, as individual casks are unique and, therefore, may not be representative of the whisky produced by that distillery for ordinary retail. The Society has also bottled single casks from ten grain whisky distilleries, identified by the prefix 'G' in the cask number. Occasionally, the Society releases bottlings with special labels — such as the Far Flung Flavours, a set of three bottles with labels and names that break with the traditional style of Society labels. Each bottle has a specially designed label based on the key characteristics of the whisky — for example, 'Wasabi Wipe-out', which featured an illustration of a Sumo wrestler surfing on the label. As of September , around 3, single casks had been bottled by the Society since Society whisky is bottled at its original cask strength, typically upwards of 45 per cent alcohol by volume ABV. It is more common in the Scotch whisky industry to reduce the spirit at bottling to around 40 per cent and put it through a chill filtering process, which prevents it from clouding at low temperatures.
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