Single Malt Amateur Club (SMAC)
Giving rise to a new culture of whisky in India
Single Malt Amateur Club (SMAC) was founded in 2011 as a platform for amateurs, professionals and connoisseurs to share experiences and information on single malt whisky. SMAC believes whisky is for everyone and the ‘Amateur’ tag was added to empower members to shed their inhibitions and speak.
Most of the information found on single malt whisky is tuned to western taste buds and expressions. Therefore, SMAC aims to add a touch of India by giving tasting notes and reviews that readers can understand and relate to. With over 3000 registered members across the globe, this rapidly growing club curates whisky tours, tasting sessions and master classes. It has the distinction of being the foremost whisky club in India that has its own bottling from some of the most reputed distilleries. True to its inclusive spirit, SMAC offers free membership to whisky lovers across the world.
The arrival of private players and boutique stores, as well as the sheer range of Indian single malt options available has further transformed the way India drinks whisky. With numerous awards under their belts, renowned brands like Amrut and Paul John have put Indian whiskies on the global map.
SMAC has partnered with many of these reputed names in the whisky space, like Paul John, Amrut, VBev, Diageo, Glencairn, and The Whisky Exchange. As the whisky culture in India continues to evolve, the club is looking to strengthen its presence nationally and make single malt whisky more inclusive, accessible, and affordable.
SMAC is also the only club in India to be featured in the Whisky Advocate magazine as one of the top whisky clubs in the world.
• Whisky Trails – The club specially curates unique trails, guided tours, and whisky journeys to different distilleries in India and across the world.
• Exclusive Bottles – The club collaborates with prominent Indian distilleries to release private bottles
o Amrut Amaze Trilogy – One of the most sought after limited-edition single malt whisky releases in India, crafted exclusively for members of the club
o Paul John Single Cask Whisky – India’s first single cask whisky exclusively produced for the members of the club.
• Whisky Merchandise – The club is proud to make professional and affordable whisky glassware for all. In addition, it also offers a selection of merchandise like mini casks, lapel pins, decanters, etc.
• Tasting Sessions – Casual or formal sessions, with close attention to detail given to glassware, paired food, tasting notes and whiskies served.
• Master Classes – Basic to advanced classes. Engaging sessions on the history, production, and maturation process of whisky.
• Whisky Launches – Brand launches and expert consultation on customer behaviour and palate preferences.
• Corporate Engagements – Customised master classes and tasting sessions for reputed corporate and business houses, especially for leadership teams or client engagement. SMAC does not represent any brand and provides an agnostic view to premium whisky.
Hemanth is a Bangalore-based IT professional whose keen interest in the rich history of whisky, led him on an exciting exploration since the late 90’s. He possesses an innate curiosity about the unique stories behind every bottle, and this curiosity has taken him on many adventures to hone his skills and further his collection – from the distilleries in Scotland and Ireland to the hills of Solan and the shores of Goa.
Hemanth Rao founded Single Malt Amateur Club in 2011, with one goal in mind – to bring together people from different realms who share his passion for single malt whisky. He aims to bring experiences around all things whisky to fans across the world and is always on the lookout for rare makers and distilleries.
Over the past decade, Hemanth has witnessed a notable evolution in India’s whisky culture. Perhaps the most important change being that it is no longer perceived as an ‘old man’s drink’. New-age whisky drinkers comprise both young men and women who are starting to enjoy whisky and are genuinely interested in the history behind their drinks. Hemanth has also noticed a growing interest in whisky collection across the country.
Some of Hemanth’s favourite whiskies are Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Brora, and Glenlivet. Closer to home, he loves Amrut Spectrum, Amrut Amaze and Paul John Select Cask Peated.
later Hemanth has roped in Harsha Thimmaiah as a partner in 2016 at Single Malt Amateur Club
Harsha is a graduate in hospitality who dabbles in industrial manufacturing and professional tennis management. As an ardent beer lover, Harsha’s initial experiences with whisky involved Glenfiddich and Coke. As he gained deeper knowledge on how to properly consume and appreciate a single malt, he began enjoying single malt whiskies from the Highland, Speyside, and Islay regions.