Tag Archives: Ardbeg

A visit to SMWS in Vejle

SMWS in Vejle, Danmark. Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Denmark.

Earlier this year we visited the newly opened Danish branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

SMWS was started as a whisky club in Edinburgh some 30 years ago, but has developed into an international franchise with a fairly snobbish ring to it. It is based on making high quality single cask bottlings from predominantly Scottish distilleries exclusively available to its members. An SMWS branch (or Member Room, as it is formally known) is both a whisky bar and bottle shop. Non-members are allowed to enter the bar and buy a glass, but you must be a member to buy a bottle, and members interested in buying a bottle or two can sip on it before buying, which is quite an advantage. Memberships are not at all cheap and paid annually.

On top of this the Danish SMWS branch is quite surprisingly located in the unexceptional city of Vejle, which is only the 9th largest city in Denmark.

Intrigued and confused, we took the trip not knowing what to expect.

Terje Thesbjerg at the SMWS in Vejle, Denmark

We visited as a 7-guy-group on a Saturday afternoon. We had booked ahead and asked if they could prepare a line-up of some of their bottlings with emphasis on surprise and peat. This was not a problem.

The Danish SMWS member room is located in Torvehallerne, which is a hotel and conference center owned by the Best Western chain. Upon entering we were greeted by Terje Thesbjerg, who owns the Danish branch, and acted as our bartender for the two hours we were there. Two hours with no other visitors and plenty of time to learn more about what SMWS has to offer, and why it has opened in a small city as Vejle.

Terje is affiliated with the management of Torvehallerne. He has clearly opened the Danish SMWS in Vejle for two reasons: To make Torvehallerne more attractive for thirsty business men, and because he is deeply enthusiastic about whisky.

Luckily it was the last of the two which was most prevalent on our visit and we thoroughly enjoyed the engaging and knowledgeable company as he took us through the line-up.

SMWS bottle code 66.36

An SMWS bottling does not directly bear the name of the distillery it is from. Instead it has a code and an extremely silly name, which is somehow related to the taste. However, the code actually tells you where the whisky is from, as the first number represents the distillery and the second number is the number of cask from which the bottle is taken. All you have to do is Google it.

Ignoring the silliness of it and disregarding whatever long forgotten reason for why SMWS started doing it like this, the lack of distillery name does have one advantage the first time you’re exploring the SMWS bottlings: You get to play guess the distillery-quiz.

We did this with rather moderate success throughout this line-up, which had been preselected by Terje.

  • 71.37 – Glenburgie, 14yo, 57.9%
  • 35.77 – Glen Moray, 15yo, 56.2%
  • 66.36 – Ardmore, 10yo, 58.2%
  • 33.115 – Ardbeg, 11yo, 55.4%
  • 29.128 – Laphroaig, 21yo, 58.8%
  • 127.21 – Port Charlotte, 9yo, 65.9%

The line-up was exactly as we had hoped; a tour de force through some gorgeous, soothing and intense whiskies with complexity and of quality.

Some of the bottles were so good, a few of us decided we had to own them, and signed up for membership on the spot. When you join the SMWS you get more than just the permission to spend more money on their bottles, but also a Membership Box. This contains four samples of SMWS bottlings, a Handbook, a tasting notebook and an SMWS pin.

Luckily you don’t have to wear the pin at any time during the visit, but once again SMWS shows a dubious combination of something wonderful and something silly.

SMWS Membership box worth it. Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Of the seven of us who entered, one had been gifted a membership prior to visiting, three signed up on the day, one just a few days later and the rest have been thinking about it since. This is not only a testimony to the high quality of the SMWS bottles, but also to the atmosphere and service of SMWS in Vejle.

This is, however, not an unconditional recommendation to sign up for a membership. Before it makes sense for you, it is our opinion that these conditions must be met:

1. Interest in buying 3-5 bottles of quality whisky a year.
2. Live (or do business) in reasonable vicinity of a branch.
3. Moderate tolerance of silliness

We will return to SMWS in Vejle soon to sample more of their range, but if next time is as joyous as the first time, we will have no problem calling SMWS the best damn whisky bar on the Danish peninsula of Jutland. Well done Terje.

d & m (Thanks to Thomas N. Jensen for the photos)

Taste The Doom in Denmark

The best in testosterone fueled experimental whisky tasting is coming to Denmark.

TASTE THE DOOM from Berlin – Dec 14th in AARHUS and Dec 15th in COPENHAGEN.

Here we present our view on the matter and a short interview conducted with the guys behind Taste The Doom.

Taste The Doom Whisky Tasting

In a rare case of entertaining whisky innovation two guys with backgrounds in extreme music have come up with one hell of an idea. Why not play doom metal at a whisky tasting – and present both with as much enthusiasm as is humanly possible for a misanthropic European?

Over the course of a Taste The Doom session 7 increasingly intense whiskies are presented in a line-up where a selection of diverse doom metal master pieces are chosen to fit each whisky in some way or another.

After six completely sold out sessions in Berlin and some hype from the local press, Taste The Doom has now been taken on the road with the two Danish dates as the first outside Berlin.

It all goes down at:

  • Trøjborg Beboerhus, Aarhus on December 14th, 21:00 – 0:00
  • Mayhem, Copenhagen on December 15th, 21:00 – 0:00.

The limited amount of tickets is available exclusively from the Route66 record stores in Aarhus and Copenhagen and priced at 222 dkr. We suspect both sessions will sell out fast, so stay up-to-date about the ticket situation on the Taste The Doom site.

Needless to say, we’ll be there.

Here’s what Lars & Peter had to say to us about Taste The Doom

Lars Lundehave Hansen, Peter Votava
Taste The Doom – Lars Lundehave Hansen & Peter Votava.

W: What goes on at a Taste The Doom event?

Typically we greet the lucky attendants and then we present the line up consisting of seven excellent whiskies that will be enjoyed with seven excellent mixes of doom/sludge/stoner/drone metal. In between the servings quirky facts about distilleries, production and whisky in general as well as info about the bands that play are given to the audience in a lively manner that seem to sit well with the crowd.

W: Why does doom metal and whisky go so well together?

There seems to be a mysterious link between whisky and music, that can’t be explained as such but only ascribed to the nodness-factor. A factor which, odd as it is, can’t be deciphered but only vaguely explained as a principal correlation that can be expressed as an inverse proportion between the PPM and the BPM.

W: How did you come up with this wonderful idea?

It was a beautiful summers eve on the balcony of Peter’s, in the quickly gentrifying Neukölln area of Berlin where we enjoyed the Ardbeg Allligator Committee Release with Buried At Sea at a decent volume, when the thought arose: If we enjoy this, then chances are that in a city such as Berlin someone else must enjoy this as well. So we set forth to find out if this was the case, and after six very successful events we must conclude, that there is a lot of interest in an event such as Taste The Doom – even from the media, both serious newspapers, hipster magazines and TV!

It may seem odd or at least the contrast is somewhat striking, that two people enjoying a high level of input/output in most aspects of life have found it suitable to join forces in presenting some really slow music at a whisky tasting, a thing that still has a ring of old man and contemplation to it. But that’s all changing…

Taste The Doom InfoWho:  Lars Lundehave Hansen & Peter Votava

Backgrounds:  Both have some 15-20 years of experience in the music-scene and are behind such things as the first techno raves in Austria, Wasted breakcore events in Berlin, founding of the legendary organization Noisejihad, co-curators at music-festivals and art events. Both are “currently mostly focused in the digital domain be it death ambient or soundart” behind monikers such as Pure, Heart Chamber Orchestra, Wäldchengarten or simply just sound-art as Lars Lundehave Hansen.

The PPM vs. BPM theory

As any peathead will know, PPM is an abbreviation of “Phenol Parts per Million”, which means the higher PPM the more peaty the whisky is.

Respectively, BPM is a music-related abbreviation of “Beats Per Mintue”, which means the lower BPM the slower the music is.

What is doom metal?

d & m