SMWS Exp.01 (chilli-infused spirit)

SMWS Exp.01 (chilli-infused spirit)

What on earth possessed the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to take a cask of whisky at 10 years old and throw in a tray of Scotch bonnet chilli peppers? Haven’t we all experimented with these kinds of infusions? In fact, SMWS already finished whisky in a Tabasco cask back in 2001.

So Exp.01 is a limited edition chilli-infused spirit drink. They added around 100 siced red chillies to an undisclosed cask. While maturing further for another 17 years it was stripped of its title as Scotch whisky. The SMWS created this as part of its 40th-anniversary year celebrations.

James Freeman, the Society’s Executive Chef, created special recipes that showcase the spirit’s culinary potential. The list includes mussels with tomato, anchovies and Exp.01, a teriyaki salmon dish and a chocolate / Exp.01 tart. Apparently it also works on a sorbet.

They don’t expect people to savour Exp.01 on its own, but hey, that is exactly what we do here at WhiskyNotes. Here we go.


Exp. #1 – Cask Experiment (55,6%, SMWS 2023)

Nose: sweet paprika comes out, but also a very fragrant malt. There’s something of women’s hand cream, as well as peaches, bananas and pink grapefruits. Creamy vanilla and brown sugar sweetness, as well as some marzipan. Whiffs of bubblegum. Glentauchers 1996 comes to mind.

Mouth: again a slightly synthetic kind of peach / pineapple flavour, with more marzipan sweetness. After two or three seconds it is entirely taken over by peppery heat. Quite scorching and challenging when taken neat – there’s a lot of capsaicin here, leaving very little room for other flavours.

Finish: still this fiery, gingery and peppery heat.

The chilli heat is definitely not unpalatable, but it’s not something you try before other whiskies either. It’s more of a gimmick when taken neat, but it works well alongside a fresh sparring partner. I will try a Bloody Mary or a citrus sorbet. Lots of fun.

This experiment comes in a 10cl Tabasco-inspired bottle and costs £ 23,50. However, at the moment you can only get it as a welcome gift when you purchase a Scotch Malt Whisky Society membership.