Whisky Focus - The Scotch Malt Whisky Society New Chilli-Infused Spirit

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society New Chilli-Infused Spirit

26th July 2023
Question: What happens when 100 chillies are matured in a cask of whisky for 17 years? Answer The SMWS Exp.01 Chilli Spirit Drink which is available as part of a special new Society membership offer while stocks last.

The SMWS Exp.01 Chilli Spirit DrinkThis summer, an audacious whisky club is spicing things up with the launch of Exp.01, a limited-edition chili-infused drink born from a daring experiment. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) embarked on a journey of innovation by maturing 100 fresh red Scotch Bonnet chillies in a cask of Scotch whisky for a remarkable 17 years.

During the experiment, the SMWS added approximately 100 sliced chillies to a cask of 10 Year Old single malt, causing it to lose its classification as a Scotch whisky. The intriguing concoction was then left to mature for an additional 17 years before being bottled as the tantalizing and spicy spirit it is today.

Exp.01 boasts a fiery 55.6% ABV and is presented in 10cl miniatures akin to hot sauce bottles, delivering a peppery punch with subtle notes of 'sweet paprika.' The Society is encouraging the adventurous taste explorers amongst you to further experiment with the spirit at home by using it in summer cocktails, as a cooking ingredient for marinades or hot sauces, or savouring it neat.

As part of its 40th-anniversary celebrations, the SMWS, headquartered in Edinburgh with members worldwide, crafted this experimental spirit, along with other special editions, drawing inspiration from the bold and innovative spirit of its founder, Pip Hills.

To delve into the intriguing tasting experience and the uniqueness of the experiment, the Society sought the expertise of Professor Brendan Walker, renowned as the world's sole 'Thrill Engineer.' His remarkable work includes designing emotional experiences like theme park rides, including Alton Towers' Th13teen. Professor Walker, intrigued by the blend of high-quality Scotch whisky and 100 fiery Scotch Bonnet chillies, delved into the investigation of the SMWS's extraordinary creation.

Walker said, "The methanol and aromatic higher alcohols found in whisky immediately trigger the release of dopamine. Chilli contains capsaicin and in small amounts, capsaicin has a pleasurable, warming, peppery effect. Capsaicin can also trigger the release of endorphins for endurance, and dopamine to reward surviving such an ordeal.

"This concoction of whisky and chilli has the most psychotropic thrilling potential. My initial tasting made me say ‘wow!’, and then smile – a genuine mini-euphoric moment for any connoisseur of thrill. There’s a whole roller coaster of experience being played out on a micro scale, over milliseconds, right there on your tongue

"It's not just the resulting liquid of Exp.01 that I find amazing – with its smooth, sweet consistency and initial peppery chilli kick. What’s most exciting for me is the Society’s spirit of experimentation. This captures my imagination. Try it in a cocktail, splash it into a creamy sauce for haggis, or pipette a single drop onto your tongue, then feel your mind and body explode with excitement."

James Freeman, the Executive Chef of the Society, has skillfully crafted special recipes that beautifully showcase the culinary potential of the spirit. Among these delights are mussels paired with tomato, anchovies, and a touch of Exp.01, a delectable teriyaki salmon dish, and an irresistible chocolate and Exp.01 tart, offering a unique fusion of flavors.

Meanwhile, SMWS ambassador Logan Shaw suggests a tantalizing highball cocktail by combining the spirit with tonic water, ice, lime, and a hint of sea salt, creating a fiery and refreshing concoction.

Professor Brendan Walker, no stranger to the Society, previously collaborated with SMWS in 2022 for their Memory Box campaign. This innovative campaign centered around tasting Society whisky that evoked cherished memories and brought forth happy moments. The campaign was unveiled at London and Glasgow whisky festivals, where wide-eyed whisky enthusiasts had the pleasure of experiencing the journey of nostalgia guided by Walker himself.

Helen Stewart, Head of Brand Marketing & Membership, said: "In our 40th and most adventurous year yet, this kind of cask experiment is a great example of the fun we have with whisky. We did this simply for the thrill of it to discover what would happen - and we’re excited to share the results of the experiment with everyone and we’d encourage people to have fun with it whether using it in cocktails, cooking recipes or simply sipping it.

"Brendan's expert knowledge of how people react to thrills and excitement was key to this experiment. His investigations have helped explore the tasting experience and explain what’s happening in the mouth when people taste it."

Founded in Edinburgh in 1983 by maverick whisky-lover Pip Hills, the SMWS is now the world’s largest whisky club, with close to 40,000 adventurous and discerning members across the globe, all united by a passion for flavour and exquisitely crafted liquid.

Exp.01 is available while stocks last from 26th July as part of a special new Society membership offer which can be found here:

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