Wind and Spirits : Single-Minded About Single-Malt
In the United States, interest in single-malt has led to the formation of six American chapters of the Edinburgh-based Scotch Malt Whisky Society, including one in Los Angeles.
The society, which claims 15,000 members worldwide, markets specialty Scotches from single casks produced by tiny distilleries. Needless to say, they have the cachet of being exclusive, distinctive and occasionally exotic.
A spokeswoman at the society’s U.S. headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., says the marketing of special bottlings is the society’s raison d’etre . The whiskies range in price from $80 to $95 a bottle. The fee to join the society is $146.01, including tax. For that the buyer gets a newsletter, invitations to tastings and an inaugural bottle of a rare single-malt.
The Fall 1994 newsletter said membership would include a bottle of Benriach, an 11-year-old Scotch made by a small distillery owned by Seagram. Also listed for sale in the Society’s newsletter were 27 other single-malts, including some from larger distilleries, such as a single-cask Glenlivet that was aged 15 years and costs $80.
Richard Wolfson, a retired attorney who heads the Los Angeles chapter of the society, says there are 2,400 U.S. members.
Last year also saw the founding of Hansell’s Malt Advocate, a magazine about grain-based beverages, the category that includes whiskeys and beer. Writer/editor John Hansell, a dedicated collector of single-malt, owns more than 300 Scotch bottles; 119 of these--one from each distillery that was producing when the Malt Advocate was founded--are displayed on a wall in his Emmaus, Penn., home.
The quarterly magazine has a national circulation of 20,000, including newsstand sales. Subscription price is $11.95 a year.