How it all began...
The Single Malt Society got its start 15 years ago when one kinda-bored man decided he needed a new hobby. And some more friends.
So Kirk Figus went looking for some fun activities. Having enjoyed attending a few scotch tastings around town, he decided to join a club focused on sampling single malt whisky. But there was one problem — he couldn’t find one to join!
He got to wondering, “How hard could it be to start my own club?”
Turned out it was pretty darn difficult, what with him not really knowing very much about scotch, how to promote the idea, how to conduct a public presentation, or how to go about finding people willing to send money to a stranger for a club that didn’t yet exist.
But somehow Kirk stumbled his way toward a first meeting comprised of 17 charter members who met in the cramped back room of a local liquor store, where a slideshow was presented with a borrowed computer on a small monitor with speakers that no one could hear.
It was an inauspicious beginning. But things got better.
What people are saying
"Amazing presentation, great scotch. Kirk nailed it. His passion and knowledge made me excited to learn more."
"Kirk did a great job of initiating us into the world of scotch. I learned quite a bit, and enjoyed the presentation."
"Kirk is an awesome teacher — [it] was enjoyable and entertaining. I can't help telling everyone about it. I feel more sophisticated already."
“The presentation was perfect — interesting, and educational. I feel I could confidently order a scotch and not feel like an idiot. "
DRUMMOND MACDOUGALL IS the totally made-up and imaginary founder of the club.
"The Single Malt Society” sounded a little generic, so to spice things up we attached a name to the club to make things more fun. Then we created a face to go with the name, with the look of someone well-schooled in the mysteries of whisky.
But even though Drummond isn’t real, that didn’t prevent him from being the subject of a recently restored not-entirely-genuine NBC television documentary from 1970.
KIRK FIGUS IS
the totally real founder of the club.
His interest in scotch started because his father drank scotch. He thought his father was cool, so he decided to drink scotch.
At first he didn't like it very much, but with some determination and diligent effort, he grew to like it. A lot.
And now he likes to share that appreciation with fellow enthusiasts.
Notable Society Milestones
The Society started in November, 2009, with little more than a new website and the hope we could round up a few scotch lovers.
The original club logo featured our club "founder" Drummond MacDougall, and an old-timey looking typeface.
In 2010, we offered an alternate universe history of the Society's eponymous founder. Click on the TV set to be enlightened.
GIVE PEATS A CHANCE!
2010 saw our first annual Bonus Session devoted to the wonders of heavily-peated scotch, which has been a sell-out every year.
A TRADITION BEGINS!
In 2010 we began what has become a Society tradition—our bi-annual exploration of fine blended scotch whiskies.
LET'S LEARN SOMETHING!
In 2011, sessions started including brief segments of "Scotch 101," focusing on the science, legends, and lore of scotch whisky.
NO SCOTCH AT ALL!
It was unprecedented, and—some said—SCANDALOUS! In 2012, we sampled a lineup of bottles that were NOT crafted in Scotland.
NO PEEKING ALLOWED!
2012 brought the first of our Blind Tastings. At these humbling events, we're given tasting notes and have to guess what we're tasting.
TOP HATS AND TIARAS!
In 2013 we launched the first of our annual "Putting on the Ritz" Bonus Sessions, featuring a lineup of VERY expensive malts.
GLENCAIRN ERA BEGINS!
In 2013, the Society quit using oversized wine glasses, and bought 200 Glencairn glasses to allow us to sample our drams properly.
A NEW HOME!
In 2014, the Society moved our sessions to the spacious meeting room in Clayton's legendary Cheshire Inn.
LUCK OF THE IRISH!
2014 saw the first of our Bonus Sessions devoted to fine whiskey from Scotland's next-door neighbors in Ireland.
SCOTCH 101 CLASSES!
In 2015, we started offering our Scotch 101 and Blended Scotch 101 presentations to the public at special class venues.
We normally offer official distillery releases, but at this 2015 session we featured independent bottlings.
WE LOOK TO THE EAST!
We'd dabbled in Japanese whiskies on occasion, but 2016 saw our first Bonus Session devoted to these fine drams.
OUR FIRST PILGRIMAGE!
2017 saw our first club trip to Scotland! We visited distilleries, castles, cathedrals, and more. We organized a second jaunt in 2023.
It was hard to believe, but a full decade had passed since the club first launched in 2009 with our 17 charter members.
In 2019, to mark our 10th Anniversary we decided to give Drummond a makeover with an updated look for the Society logo.
GOING BACK IN TIME!
Newer members hadn't sampled some classic bottles from past years
—but 2019's new Scotch Archaeology sessions solved that.
A LITTLE RECOGNITION!
In 2020, we were featured in a nationally-distributed special edition of Whisky Advocate Magazine featuring scotch clubs.
A LITTLE MORE RECOGNITION!
In 2021, we were featured in the international spirits blog Inside the Cask, as part of an ongoing series focused on scotch clubs.
FIRST VIRTUAL SESSION!
In 2020, Covid forced a halt in operations, leading to our first Virtual Session Kits, adding a little fun to a rather bleak period.
DESSERT WITH SCOTCH?
We'd heard of whisky and cheese pairings — so why not chocolate? 2021's Chocolate Fest featured delicious handcrafted bon-bons.
ANOTHER NEW HOME!
In-person meetings resumed in 2022 for the first time since the Covid out-break, and we found a new home at the Marriot St. Louis West Hotel.
A BIG MILESTONE!
It took 14 years, but in 2023 the club sampled our 500th different bottle. There's no telling how many more we'll sample before we're done.