IN EARLY 2009, I was looking for a new hobby, and decided to join a scotch tasting club, having developed a casual interest in single malt scotch. There was just one problem—I couldn't find a scotch club to join.
Asking myself, "How hard could it be to start my own?" I decided to form a group of like-minded folk to join me in exploring the many wonders of scotch whisky.
Nine months, one website, and lots of research (translation: tasting a lot of scotch!) later, the Single Malt Society was launched, with seventeen members brave enough to send payment of their club dues over the internet, to a stranger, for a club that didn't yet exist.
The club started to catch on, as some of those original charter members recruited a friend or two to join them, and one thing led to another. By the end of our first year, our roster had expanded to 48 members, and we've continued to add new scotch lovers along the way to our current roster of over 175 members.
As we enter our eleventh year, the mission of the Single Malt Society remains unchanged from our first session—to create a fun and informal setting in which scotch fans can sample a wide variety of single malts, without any of the snootiness often associated with a wine or spirits tasting group. Members of any experience level are welcome to join the club, whether newbies or long-time malt maniacs, and we all learn a little something new along the way.
I certainly have, as my casual interest evolved into a passion, and—admittedly—a bit of an obsession. Since starting the Society, I've learned more than I could have imagined, the result of researching and creating dozens of multimedia presentations touching on the science of scotch, and the history of the famous distilleries we visit in each bottle.
After conducting over 150 whisky tasting sessions, sampling almost 400 kinds of scotch from more 150 different brands or distilleries, (and making many new friends along the way), I'm looking forward to uncorking all the bottles we haven't yet discovered.
~Kirk Figus, Club Founder
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.
LET'S LEARN SOMETHING!
In 2011, sessions started including brief segments of "Scotch 101," focusing on the science, legends, and lore of scotch whisky.
In 2010, we offered an alternate universe history of the Society's eponymous "founder." Click on the TV set to be enlightened.
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.
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.
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.
A TRADITION BEGINS!
In 2010 we began what has become a Society tradition—our bi-annual exploration of fine blended scotch whiskies.
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.
We normally offer official distillery releases, but at this 2015 session we featured independent bottlings for a unique scotch experience.
A NEW HOME!
In 2014, the Society moved our sessions to the spacious meeting room in Clayton's legendary Cheshire Inn.
WE TURN TO THE EAST!
We'd dabbled in Japanese whiskies on occasion, but 2016 saw our first Bonus Session exclusively devoted to these fine drams.
LUCK OF THE IRISH!
2014 saw the first of our Bonus Sessions devoted to fine whiskey from Scotland's next-door neighbors in Ireland.
OUR FIRST PILGRIMAGE!
2017 saw our first club trip to Scotland! We visited distilleries, castles, cathedrals, museums, and Scotland's natural beauty.
SCOTCH 101 CLASSES!
In 2015, we started offering our Scotch 101 and Blended Scotch 101 presentations to the public at special class venues.
To mark our 10th Anniversary, in 2019 we gave Drummond a makeover with an updated look for the Society logo.
"I look forward to every session. The whole Single Malt Society experience is more to me than trying new, exotic scotches. It's a welcome break from the daily routine, and provides an engaging adventure with new friends."
When I first discovered the Single Malt Society, I thought it sounded perfect...amateurs learning about and tasting scotch together. Now, after being in the club for several years, I look forward to the friendship and camaraderie as much as the whisky."
"One of the best decisions I made was to join the Single Malt Society. I've learned about the art and science of scotch, but my favorite part is the great new friendships I've made with others that share (an understatement!) my interest in single malts."
"'Whisky' derives from the Gaelic words for 'water of life.' The Single Malt Society is the most "life" enriching club I've ever joined. Not just for the bottles uncorked, but for the spirit and camaraderie from great like-minded individuals."
"The Single Malt Society is the best scotch club in the country! Joining the club is a great way to expand your knowledge of scotch and its history, develop your palate, and meet like-minded whisky aficionados."
"When I first joined, all I knew about scotch was that I liked drinking it. I've now learned about almost every facet of scotch whisky, but more importantly the club is a great way to spend time with friends."
"Several years ago, I identified a knowledge gap I wanted to fill...I was literally a scotch virgin. Flash forward a few years: after sampling about 36 scotches per year, with an entertaining presentation for each one, I can safely say I am a pro! And who knew the members would be as diverse as the scotch? Come for the whisky, stay for the fun."
"I originally joined the club to learn about scotch in an unpretentious environment. The club has not only wildly surpassed my initial hopes and expectations, but I have also gained a group of friends I would never have otherwise met...and I married one of them!"
"Five years ago, I received a membership in the Single Malt Society as a Christmas gift. The Society gave me a great education about scotch and whisky, but the reason I come back year after year are the friends I've made over a dram of scotch, making it a truly exceptional gift."