WhiskyBrother&Co holds the franchise for the South African branch of SMWS, and co-owner Marc Pendlebury believes it’s an opportunity for all types of whisky lovers to engage in a snob-free environment. “Not only do you gain access to a wealth of knowledge,” he explains, “but you also get to taste, share and experiment with incredible whisky.” He’s planning some online tastings and is excited that the first batch of bottles, or outturn, is now available. With 14 expressions from 12 distilleries, there are 10 flavour profiles, ensuring something for everyone.
Each of these bottles is labelled with a distinct coding. At first, it seems random, but there’s a nuance to the numbers and purpose in the palette. For instance, bottle 53.340, with its deep red highlights, is in fact a very old Caol Ila. The codes — available online — follow a standardised system that’s easy to understand, if impossible to memorise. The naming, in this case Loud Raves The Torrent An’ The Rain, is a more personal affair, chosen by members of the secretive SMWS tasting panel. Aitken tells me it’s a motley crew, comprised of singers, aficionados, and writers — exactly the kind of people I want naming my whisky.
As I see it, the purest whisky experience — an unsullied blind tasting — is all about decoding. Free from the deceptive distractions of brand names and price tags, the senses collect more clues and figure it out on their own. In the absence of info, a raw truth emerges. So see the code as a blank slate, and even if you don’t crack it, you’re in for a cracking good time with a cracker dram in hand.
There are daily drams, and then there are wondrous whiskies. Here’s a selection for that special someone, somewhere, or situation.