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SMWS Celebrates International Women’s Day With 5 Special Bottlings

The all-female tasting panel at SMWS. Their faces have been blurred to ensure anonymity.
The all-female Tasting Panel has been kept anonymous. Credit: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Women’s History Month, in March 2024, has already seen several special releases to celebrate the women in the industry. Today, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has announced the release of five limited-edition single-cask whiskies that have been selected by an all-female tasting panel. 

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was formed by Pip Hills in 1983. Hills established SMWS as a hobby and a space for people to enjoy single-cask whiskies, which were not widely available at the time. In fact, the 1980s was a dire time for the scotch whisky industry, which found itself amid the infamous Whisky Loch

SMWS, however, braved the storm. Fast-forward over 40 years, and SMWS has over 41,000 members worldwide, with exclusive tasting rooms, and a single-cask bottling subscription service. In March 2024, SMWS is adding five limited edition International Women’s Day whiskies to its portfolio.

In addition, the Society has also announced that 5% of the profits from the sale of the five bottles will be donated to the OurWhisky Foundation

The OurWhisky Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting women in the whisky industry. The foundation does this by funding a mentorship program, as well as connecting women in whisky with big-name brands for unique partnership opportunities. 

The SMWS International Women’s Day Whiskies

The five bottlings in this special International Women’s Day release are: 

  • “A Toffee-Coated Hay Bale” – a light and fruity expression, for international release.
  • “Hebridean Hamper” – a peated expression, also for international release. 
  • “Liquid Riches” – an expression that SMWS calls “old and dignified”, for UK & EU release only. 
  • “A Humble Mountain Feast” – rich and full-bodied, for UK & EU release only. 
  • “Christmas on The Beach” – a sweet yet spicy expression exclusively available to SMWS members. 


Whisky being poured into an SMWS tasting glass ready for the tasting panel to assess.
The whiskies were selected by an all-female tasting panel. Tasting notes range from “orange peel” to “chicken chow mein”. Credit: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

The quirky names of the whiskies, a hallmark of SMWS bottlings, were chosen by the all-women Tasting Panel. The Tasting Panel took place at the SMWS headquarters (The Vaults in Leith) in 2023. 

Those who are familiar with SMWS bottlings will know that the members of the Tasting Panel remain anonymous, as does the whisky inside the bottles. Instead of disclosing the distillery directly, SMWS uses “society cask numbers” to keep track of their bottlings. 

All of the whiskies are single-cask and bottled at cask strength. 

The UK & EU expressions, as well as the member’s only expression, will be available to purchase online and in SMWS’s UK Member’s Rooms from 8th March 2024. 

Celebrating Women In Whisky 

There is no doubt that the whisky industry has, historically, been male-dominated. SMWS and the OurWhisky Foundation challenge the notion that there is no place for women in whisky. 

The OurWhisky Foundation began as a social media movement in 2018, advocating for greater diversity and inclusion among whisky drinkers and those in the whisky industry. Over the last five years, it has evolved into a foundation that challenges the gendered image of whisky and works to create an inclusive environment for women in the whisky industry. 

Under the leadership of  CEO Becky Paskin, the foundation has made significant strides, of which The Demeter Collection and the SMWS bottlings are very much a part. 

Of the limited releases, Becky Paskin said: “Hosting an all-women tasting panel is a great way to facilitate conversation and challenge the outdated and gendered image of the whisky industry that remains prevalent today. Anyone who tries these exceptional whiskies will be left in no doubt about the importance of highlighting women in whisky!”

A group of women tasting whisky in the courtyard of the SMWS venue, The Vaults, in Leith.
Scotch whisky fans around the world can raise a dram to women in whisky on International Women’s Day. Credit: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Julie Roberts, Brand Innovation Manager at SMWS, commented: 

“Women have always played a key role in the evolution of the Society; from our first managing director Anne Dana driving early membership uptake in the 1980s and establishing the first tasting room when the Society was in its infancy, to our growing number of women members, and the many women across our venues, international branches and teams.

“With that in mind, we encourage everyone to join us in raising a dram to women in whisky this International Women’s Day!”

Roberts was one of 50 women who took place in the OurWhisky Foundation’s mentorship program last year. 

SMWS International Women’s Day Events 

In addition to the five whiskies chosen by the Tasting Panel, SMWS is hosting exclusive International Women’s Day events at two of its premises on the 8th March. The events will include a tasting of the special bottlings. You can purchase tickets for the Bath Street and Queen Street events via the SMWS website. 

Whisky Auctioneer’s Women In Whisky Auction

A woman sat next to six bottlings that will feature in The Demeter Collection, to be auctioned by Whisky Auctioneer.
One of the special SMWS bottlings, “Christmas on The Beach”, will be auctioned as part of The Demeter Collection. Credit: Whisky Auctioneer.

On 5th March 2024, The Whiskey Wash reported that Whisky Auctioneer would be hosting a first-of-its-kind auction featuring bottles that were created by, or in celebration of, women in the whisky industry. 

The auction will feature The Demeter Collection. SMWS is proud to announce that one of the five limited-edition bottles from their International Women’s Day release, “Christmas on The Beach” will be included in the auction. 

Furthermore, Whisky Auctioneer’s auction will also see a portion of the profits donated to the OurWhisky Foundation. 

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