The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s “The Gathering” celebration is in full swing, with a week of excellent whisky-based events to celebrate the Society’s heritage in Leith.

We were able to take part in Wednesday night’s tasting and film screening, which paired Trainspotting with a trio of society single malts, soft drinks & popcorn. It took place in the atmospheric surrounds of The Biscuit Factory; a events space, about a 10 minute walk from The Vaults.

Our host Jan combines his SMWS ambassador role with researching a PhD in chemical engineering and distilling, so we were certainly in qualified hands!

The event started off with Jan walking us through the tasting with lots of additional information about the flavours and process. Most in the event were SMWS members, but I always learn something from taking part in a tasting and this was no exception.

Jan’s self-confessed whisky geekery provided lots of information about which flavours were generated from the various stages of the whisky production.

The whiskies which had been selected were a lively set, with the ABV all hovering around the 60% level but still perfectly drinkable at this strength.

First up was 28.42; a sweet and zesty 11 year-old Tullibardine with a good nose (buttery, stone fruit and floor polish), but a deliciously intense palate. Citrus fruits combined with sour bitter notes (seville orange marmalade and dried ginger) to give a lovely balanced dram. Very approachable, this was a great start.

Second was 12.28; a youthful 9 year-old Benriach from a first-fill Bourbon Barrel. I loved the nose of this whisky; bags of cask influenced notes such as vanilla cream, buttery biscuit and a hind of citrus. The flavours were more floral than I expected, but still lots of baked good combining with soft fruit and a spicy, peppery finish.

We agreed that the balance of this whisky was fantastic for the age and a blind tasting would likely judge it far older.

Finally, as is typical in Society selections, we finished with a peated malt. This was 66.136; “Burnt Heather and Honey” which was a 12 year old Ardmore.

Despite being peated, Ardmore is quite different proposition from Islay malts with the smokey notes being more damp and ashy than the island whiskies. To be honest, it’s not a whisky I’d generally go for, mainly based on having had a number of single cask expressions (often from the Society) which have a very rubbery flavour which I didn’t enjoy.

This lightly peated expression was much more enjoyable however. A slightly oily but very sweet nose with just a hint of smoke combined with a spicy, ashy, honeyed palate.

The finish was lovely too, with the sweetness subsiding to leave an ashy, tar note with a great length.

After the whiskies, it was time to settle in to watch the film, enjoy the remainder of our drams and munch through a bag of popcorn.

I’ve seen Trainspotting plenty of times since it was released in 1996, but it’s still a fantastic movie and is so tersely scripted that it always feels longer than it’s 90-minute running time. Watching it in the raw, industrial room at The Biscuit Factory just added to the atmosphere and it was a great venue for the event.

The event concluded after the film finished and for us thankfully it was a short walk home; an excellent way to spend a midweek evening.


There are still tickets available for the final few events of The Gathering;

  • 6th Sep: Member’s First Friday Gathering at The Vaults
  • 7th Sep: Outdoor BBQ and party at The Vaults courtyard
  • 8th Sep: Open Day and brunch at The Vaults courtyard

If you’re not able to get to Leith; John McCheyne will also be hosting a Virtual Tasting on Saturday 7th at 1pm.

More details and tickets for all the remaining events are on the SMWS website.

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