Scotch Malt Whisky Society - A Flavour Ambassador journey
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
Yes, that's right... a Flavour Ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It's a thing, and together with 11 others I was invited earlier this year to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland to become a Flavour Ambassador on behalf of our preferred flavour profile.
I don't necessarily get up at 4am on a Saturday morning, unless I need to catch an early flight. I am one of those rare people who can function fairly decently with only a few hours of sleep, but as I snuggle into my KLM seat, I pray for sunny skies and a smooth flight, so I can catch a few more winks. Well my wish came true because before I knew it, we'd arrived.
A full day of whisky sampling at The Whisky Shop, a wander, a quick bento and a Ginger Johnnie at the Johnnie Walker Highball Lounge later, I head back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be another long day but then, I'd be spending my time in the lush surrounding of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Vaults.
The next day I meet the other Ambassadors for our individual and group photoshoot, some of the photo's you'll find on this page. Once we're done, we get to enjoy lunch and a great selection of different drams. I am grateful the Society has put me up in a hotel, only walking distance from The Vaults!
That evening we are treated to another delicious surprise, a dinner combined with a whisky tasting in one of the private rooms.
We are a crazy diverse group of people. I mean, how often do you get a carpenter from London, a cancer researcher from Italy, a former minister and a wealth manager from Scotland, a writer from The Netherlands and a Facebook data AI specialist from Canada in the same room? Our common connection: whisky of course.
The same way a brand ambassador represents a brand, a flavour ambassador does the same, but then on behalf of a specific flavour profile (I'll get to those later!). With thousands of whiskies out there, being able to distinguish what flavour you like or even recognise is difficult. A flavour ambassador can help you decide. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Flavour Ambassadors are a carefully selected group of members who all represent their personal flavour profile, and at the same time shows the society's diversity, both in flavours as well as membership.
Flavour profiles... do we need them?
Yep... we do. At least I think we do, and not just because I represent the Spicy & Sweet profile :) The traditional regional Scotch whisky mapping can be a great help, but the flavour profiles simply go a step further in helping you find your way when selecting the dram you love most.
There are twelve flavour profiles, coincidentally (or perhaps not so much) the same amount as there are apostles - perhaps the society is trying to tell us something?
* Young & Spritely
* Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
* Spicy & Sweet (<--- Me! Me! Me! :D)
* Spicy & Dry
* Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
* Old & Dignified
* Light & Delicate
* Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
* Oily & Coastal
* Lightly Peated
* Heavily Peated
Spicy & Sweet
I urge you to definitely check out all flavours on the dedicated Ambassador page, to discover your flavour, but let me tell you a little bit about my personal flavour profile: Spicy and Sweet.
When it comes to these whiskes, I love to find that nice and flavourful combination of cinnamon, cloves and sometimes a little bit of pepper. While at the same time you get this delicious kick of sweetness from the caramel, toffee and honey. Never take these whiskies on 'nose-value'... you might not be able to smell it, but when you take a sip there’s that lovely sweet surprise.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
By now I'm sure you already know what the SMWS is, but for those still unaware: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is one of the most unconventional societies you will find in the world. Our world literally revolves around... Whisky.
What started with the purchase of a single malt whisky cask, more than 30 years ago, became the foundation of the society in 1983 (Obviously a brilliant year... and not just because it's when I was born of course). The society nowadays has more than 26.000 members worldwide and a multitude of partner bars across the globe, where members can drink their favorite drams, without having to go to a SMWS venue in Scotland or London.
Why should I be a member?
I normally don't do 'clubs'... to the extent that I dropped out of my university student association during initiation. It was simply not my thing. However, this has got to be one of the most low-key clubs I've ever belonged to. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society allows its members to discover a whole new world of whiskies, as well as give them a place to get together, drink together, eat, learn and just generally enjoy themselves. Want to know more? Check out the details of the membership here!
What's next, I hear you ask. Honestly, mostly just enjoy my drams, discover more whiskies and visit as many partner bars and SMWS venues as possible. I mean, there's so much more to taste and as a wise whisky master once advised me:
The best whisky you'll ever taste, is the next one in your glass.