Scotch Malt Whisky Society membership rise tops up full-year revenues

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has cheered a jump in annual turnover driven by continued momentum in its membership figures.

SWMS was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and now has more than 26,000 members. Picture: Contributed

Revenues at the Edinburgh-founded organisation soared to £12.2 million in the year to 31 December, growing by 26 per cent year-on-year.

It pointed to continued membership growth, with follower numbers increasing by 10 per cent in 2018, including a growing number of new sign-ups from Europe, the Americas and Asia.

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Revenues from international memberships outstripped those from the UK for the first time, with rest of the world members accounting for 54 per cent, up from 46 per cent in 2017.

SMWS, which is owned by Glasgow-based Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC), achieved its underlying earnings target of £49,000, representing a jump from a loss of £109,000 in 2017.

Despite this, the group posted an overall pre-tax loss of £722,000, slightly improved from £767,000 in 2017, as it continued to pump funds into its property and warehouse stocks.

ASC said it had invested “strongly” in spirits from around the world to boost its whisky stockholding by £4.5m.

SMWS also added five staff and spent more than £1m on fixed assets, including investing in two apartments above its home at The Vaults in Leith and refurbishing its London base in Greville Street.

The society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and now has more than 26,000 members.

ASC managing director David Ridley said: “It is more than 35 years since Pip Hills rolled a cask of matured spirit into the back of his Lagonda, drove to Edinburgh and introduced his friends to the delights of single cask single malt whisky.

“From these early beginnings of SMWS, we’ve grown to a club of over 26,000 like-minded enthusiasts in over 35 countries.”

He said the society is investing in products from new distilleries, adding “This has two benefits – our members will be able to enjoy the individuality of a single cask in the future and we’re giving start-up distillery owners some much-needed working capital to help their operations run.”