This month:

Exp.01 Some like it hot: What on earth possessed us to take a cask of whisky at 10 years old and throw in a tray of Scotch bonnet chilli peppers? The story goes back to a previous Society experiment, when we matured whisky in casks which had been used to ferment and age Tabasco® pepper sauce. Julien Willems reports on the spark of maverick inspiration behind the release of our Exp.01 that dates back more two decades.

Exp.01 For the thrill of it: Who better to collaborate with on the release of our Exp.01 chilli-infused spirit drink than a ‘Thrill Engineer’? Professor Brendan Walker brings a heady mix of art and science to his work, from engineering the euphoric rush of a roller coaster ride to the psychotropic thrill of combining Scotch whisky and Scotch bonnet chilli peppers.

Exp.01 Sip, mix, cook: We don’t expect members to sit and savour Exp.01 as a dram on its own – although it’s definitely worth a try to see what your palate makes of it. Like its predecessor Hotscotch, our chilli-infused spirit drink can be enjoyed in various ways, whether you want to sip, mix or cook with it.

Knowledge – cask types: As we’ve established, when you add 100 Scotch bonnet chilli peppers to a cask of whisky, Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) regulations declare that you can no longer refer to the contents of the cask using the W word. In this feature from Unfiltered issue 44 in August 2019, Tom Bruce-Gardyne investigated why some casks are allowed for maturation, and why others are strictly taboo.

Knowledge – Rye whisky: Rye is usually associated with American whisky, but innovators within Scotland’s distilling landscape are changing this narrative. SMWS ambassador Lee ‘Connas’ Connor looks into what goes into the production of rye, the impact and future of this grain.

The Vaults – our place in history: As we prepare to give our spiritual home a makeover this summer, we wanted to reflect on how The Vaults came to be The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s home in Leith when we started out 40 years ago, and the iconic building’s enduring place in the spirits world.

Whisky history – minimum ageing: Ever wondered why Scotch whisky has to be matured for a minimum of three years? Gavin D Smith reveals how the stipulation came to be introduced during the First World War, and the subsequent repercussions for the industry.

The SMWS – an honest approach: In its 40-year history, the Society has evolved from a small syndicate of malt whisky fans in Edinburgh into something far bigger and now truly international. There have been plenty of changes, but the guiding principles remain the same. Among them – an unwavering commitment to bottle whisky as pure as it comes, straight from the wood and with nothing added nor taken away.

Members’ Rooms – Meet the team: If you’re headed to our Queen Street or Glasgow Members’ Rooms this month you might see some new faces. We’re delighted to introduce Scott Robertson, the new Venue Manager for 28 Queen Street and Georgia Scott, the new Assistant Venue Manager for 40 Bath Street.

Partner bar – HopScotch, Liverpool: Taking the Society out to new places is always a pleasure! Both The Globe in Dumfries and The New Union in Kendal have been added to our resume of partner bars of late. And back in April, we were delighted to get the team at HopScotch in Liverpool on board. SMWS ambassador Lee ‘Connas’ Connor sat down with joint founder Matt to find out more about it.