If you are able to get to their bars and buy whisky, you are in the best position of all because you can try before you buy.
Do note - the initial joining fee includes the price of a bottle.
However, a month after the release I could buy the bottle at The Whisky Exchange and at a lower cost. Isn't that strange?
If you absolutely want the Glenugie, ask a member of the society or try to contact retailers such as TWE, Loch Fyne Whiskies or RMW and ask them if they can get hold of the bottling for you.
Obviously, if you join purely in order to buy a single bottle, you'd have to want that bottle pretty badly. The SMWS is a club aimed at people who like to buy cask strength whisky and it offers them a good range at attractive prices - in return for a membership fee.
I wouldn't advocate asking somebody to buy a bottle for you because that is trying to obtain the benefits of membership without paying the fees. I know it can be done, and I'm sure people do it, but it does seem rather sneaky to me.
And I personally do not think it's worth spending that much money on a membership just to obtain this specific bottle.
Sure, if you have an intention to visit their club room and have the intention to buy several bottlings a year or collect SMWS bottlings you might want to join to benefit from their offerings. If you're interested in whisky you could probably find more bottlings at reasonable prices too.
As a collector however, you can always get around club and societies membership fees to get the bottlings you're after and be able to cut some great costs - nothing I recomend though. If you don't want to ask a member of the society to buy the bottle, it will sooner or later show up at auction houses, eBay or at other whisky retailers.
I joined the club myself just to be able to buy one of their bottlings. But I still think it's a very high cost for a couple of Newsletters via E-mail per year (bottle included).
I visited the Vaults once as a guest, and my host let me buy two bottles. However my wife couldn't get access in her wheelchair, so then I used that excuse for not joining.
I'll soon have to give up and join since they are now rebuilding the place and installing a lift
I buy a large number of bottles annually for myself but mostly for one of the clubs I run and the value and selection is outstanding IMHO. However if you are not going to use your membership then it's of little value. I also like to be able to visit the Vaults when I'm in Edinburgh, it's my favourite spot.
At the end of the day the SMWS is a CLUB and clubs usually charge dues.
It gets you:-
Access to bottlings - which you pay market rates for;
Access to to events - which you pay market rates for;
Access to behind-the-bar drams - which you pay market rates for.
And, for the Brits, it isn't quite the same as Costco. That wholesaler does have a small membership fee. But, unlike the SMWS, it entitles members to cash-and-carry prices on products.
I happen to think The SMWS represents good value for money even though the price hike this year was a bit O.T.T. , i don't think it would have been as noticable if they'd done it over a few years rather than in one go !
As for the price of the bottles , Great value , especially when you contrast to one's in the market place (these are a few of my personal favourites):-
SMWS 40yo Glenfarclas £150
O.B. 40yo Glenfarclas £1500
SMWS 19yo Bruichladdich £57
O.b. 20yo Bruichladdich £70
SMWS 25yo Caol Ila £62
O.B. 25yo Caol ila £98
OMC 25yo Caol Ila £73
Sig 25yo Caol ila £79
Fair enough some of the younger ones are a bit more expensive but not much (7yo SMWS Ardbeg £44 , Cad 12yo Ardbeg £41.50 ) but some of the distilleries you'll have trouble getting elsewhere !
Oh ! and you get free delivery to mainland UK as well .....
SMWS 40yo Glenfarclas - $385
OB 30yo Glenfarclas - $430
OB 40yo Glenfiddich - $3250
SMWS looks pretty good to me!
And bear in mind that the SMWS offers many whiskies that the other independants don't turn up as regularly.
If you're after whiskies from distilleries that long since closed down, or don't export their OB to your country, or don't even bottle their own malt, then the SMWS stands head and shoulders above the rest.
But since moving to Germany and being forced to deal with the "foreign" arm of SMWS I have cancelled my membership purely because of lack of support and service.
They couldn't even get the magazine to me on a regular basis.
So sorry SMWS, in this poll you get a firm "No" from me.
without the magazine communication I had no communication or any idea of what was on offer!
It was a case of pay your membership and goodbye, you don't exist any more.
I spoke directly to SMWS in Edinburgh who said they had received a few similar complaints, but there was nothing they could do. Living outside the UK they were not allowed to deal with me directly, I had to deal with the SMWS via Holland.
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