For those new to the party, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society labels its bottles by a not so secret, secret code – initially introduced so that members sampled whiskies without the preconceptions of knowing which particular distillery the liquid hailed from. Over time, I’ve found that my obsessive whisky brain has learned and memorised many of them – no doubt forgetting other pieces of more useful information as a consequence. In 2012 there were 132 different codes. In early 2017 there were still 132 different codes. But, in the three years since, six new distillery numbers have been added to the Society’s books. This week the latest of these new additions has been unveiled. It’s not from Scotland (though not doubt there’ll be a raft of new fledging distilleries in the mix in the future) - 138.1 ‘All in the game’ is from Taiwan. No, it’s not that distillery.
It’s all too easy to forget that the whisky world exists outside of the enthusiast bubble. Whilst fans get all het up about pricing, allocations, terroir, re-brands <delete as appropriate>, your average non-convert is much more inclined to dive into an impassioned but wholly inaccurate explanation of whisky with or without the ‘e’. Like many hobbies, folks move at different speeds and with different levels of knowledge. And similarly to the weekly ‘with or without the e’ dispute - the general level of familiarity with ‘world whisky’ is arguably presently poor. To the great unwashed, whisky is invariable Scottish, and whiskey is Irish or American – the produce of other nations is oft-times reduced to that of mere perceived novelty, or simply regarded as not the ‘real deal’.