The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Changes Their Labels

let’s begin

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has been around since 1983. It is a members club that seeks to create a collection of some of the finest and rarest casks around and make them available to their members.

They have become iconic in the Scotch Whisky world and have bogled some exceptional malts.

To celebrate their upcoming 35th anniversary, they have decided to revamp their labels, which may not sound like a big deal, but when you love Scotch as much as the chaps at SMWS do, it is a very big deal.


Their bottles have long been recognisable by their green colour as well as for the fact that their labels include codes that refer to the liquid inside and inform the purchaser of certain details, such as where it was distilled.

Now, they have brightened up the bottle, adding a dash of colour to the cap, a strip on the label and on the age statement.

But this is not just to make their bottles more attractive. Oh no, it has a much more intriguing purpose than that.

There are 12 colours in total and each one refers to one to SMWS’s 12 flavour profiles, so as soon as you see a bottle you’ll know exactly what to expect from the liquid inside.

This is a fantastic way not only to get people to buy their favourites, but also to encourage them to branch out and explore a little more of the flavours on offer.

The Society themselves say, “By defining whisky more by aromas than by region, we want to make it easier to focus on the flavours”. This is a great way to honour the complexity of many of the bottles that SMWS produces.

It’s All About Age

Another big change in the label is the prominence of the age of the Whisky.

This is because SMWS bottle a Whisky when it is at its peak, not depending on how many years it’s been in a cask.

Rather than relying on time to tell them when its ready, their Tasting Panel decides for themselves.

With the new label, age is put front and centre, so you know exactly how many years certain Whiskies have taken to create. This also gives the consumer the opportunity to make a direct comparison between ages.

The Finer Details

As well as age and flavour profile, the labels will also continue to contain an inventive name and a tasting note created by the Tasting Panel.

The name of each bottle will seek to capture the essential parts of the liquid on the inside and the tasting note won’t give away too much, but will entice the reader to explore more for themselves.

This is an important part of the label as it allows the consumer to delve into the liquid and gives it a personality, as the company themselves have claimed.

This has always been an exciting feature of the labels as it builds up a picture of the Whisky and takes the reader on a journey rather than just outright telling them what they should expect to taste.

The Usual Bits

While the label is going through quite a big and exciting change, there are some aspects that won’t be changing.

This includes the codes that SMWS are famous for. These are codes made up of two numbers that refer to the distillery it was sourced from and how many single casks have been used from that distillery.

Also still present on the bottle are the “date of birth” as SMWS refers to it, which is the exact date of bottling, as well as cask region and strength.

So while the new label may bring all kinds of exciting prospects to your Whisky tasting experiences, SMWS have remained faithful to their ultimate mission, which is allowing you to know as much about the liquid as possible, and then enjoying it with all this knowledge in mind!

Tags: 12 flavour profilesLabelsSMWSThe Scotch Malt Whisky Society
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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