Are you members ? what will I get from it?
I have visited their website but it's not quite like getting honest views from the people in the know.
The good side:
* All bottles are non-chillfiltered and contain no caramel
* All bottles are single casks and bottled at cask strength
* Bottlings come from well known and not so well known distilleries. Opportunity to drink from many silent distilleries too.
* Bottlings generally vary from being just plain good, to absolutely stellar. I cannot recall tasting a "bad" bottle, and I've probably sampled from over 30 in the last two years. In other words, quality control is pretty good.
* Meetings are a great opportunity to sit and discuss your malt enthusiasm with other like-minded people.
* If you happen to live in the UK, the facilities and club rooms, etc, are at your disposal. (Obviously, we non-UK residents don't really get to take advantage of this).
I enjoy my membership, unfortunately my wallet doesn't.
But even the bad points (expensive bottles of relatively young whisky) are mitigated because even the younger bottles are often somewhat distinctive and, of course, you don't have to buy them. After the initial membership, annual renewals are only about US$35/20GBP per year, which is pretty reasonable. For that you get access to these bottlings, some of which are quite remarkable. I have a Glenfarclas 38CS which is just sublime, and have tasted many other bottlings from SMWS which are just spectacular.
Their tasting events (some limited to members) are very well done. Their large tastings have the advantage of having a very good selection of whiskies while not being overcrowded (a complaint I had about the last WhiskyFest event I attended). They also do certain small members-only tastings which I understand are very nice.
Just to correct admirals £61 pound for a 10/11yo , the price in the UK for one of that age varies depending on popularity . £38 for one of the lesser ones to £45 for a popular Islay (us Islay drinkers seem to subsidise others.... ) . the older ones are cheaper than their I.B. / O.B. comrades (£120 for a 38yo .....Bargain ) , another example - £50 for a 21yo Caol Ila , the 25yo O.B. is £90 plus . Again it depends on the Popularity of the malt but i've only had one reason to complain of recent times and that was the stroke they played with the Ardbeg bottling before Christmas and i let them know i wasn't happy ( not that it made much difference) .
But other wise i've been happy with my membership (take good advantage of the bottlings and The Vaults ).
Here in Oz, the cheapest bottlings start at AUS$160.
AUS$160 = 61GBP, so if you're paying less than 61 pounds, then you're getting considerably better value than we are here.
Many times I've looked in to the possibility of buying whiskies from the UK and having them shipped to me here, but the cost of shipping is always around 15 pounds per bottle. Then there's the risk of Australian Customs slugging me both excise AND GST (our equivalent of VAT) when it gets here.
Sometimes, the cost of shipping plus the taxes is actually more than the cost of the bottle itself!
Also tucked in there is a new offering (their President's Choice this month): a Springbank 15 for $115. And yes, I already ordered one.
Admiral wrote:The bad side: Bottlings are quite expensive, and do not appear to be priced in line with other IB's. (e.g. US$125 or GBP61 for a 10 or 11 year old malt is a bit rich).
i dont think it is that bad. if you thnk about the fact that you get about 2 bottles worth of drinks out of a bottle then it is pretty close to what you pay at a liqour shop here in the NY area.
As to price I fell that it is worth it. Having said that a few years ago the C$ compared to the US$ made purchasing Society whiskies from the USA a very expensive adventure, happily our currency has bounced back a bit and it is again a still a good deal. Further there are usually whiskies available that I would not normally have access to and I am always will to pay a small premium to try something that is not available here.
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