The Scotch Malt Whisky Society new chilli-infused spirit

Sonia Raineri and Joe Sykes at The Vaults with sorbet

Professor Brendan Walker helps The Scotch Malt Whisky Society explore extraordinary new chilli-infused spirit that you can mix in cocktails, sip if you’re brave enough or even cook with!

This summer, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is turning up the heat with the release of Exp.01, a limited-edition new chilli-infused drink resulting from an experiment that saw 100 fresh red Scotch Bonnet chillies matured in a cask of Scotch whisky for 17 years.

SMWS x Joelato spicy summer sorbet ingredients
Pic Greg Macvean 

For the experiment, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) added around 100 sliced chillies to a cask of 10-year-old single malt . The curious concoction was then left to mature for a further 17 years before being bottled as the spicy spirit it is today.  At 55.6% abv and bottled in 10cl hot-sauce sized miniatures, Exp.01 packs a peppery punch with hints of ‘sweet paprika’.

The SMWS created the experimental spirit as part of its 40th-anniversary year celebrations, during which it is staging various events and releasing special editions, all inspired by its founder Pip Hills.

Professor Brendan Walker, whose previous work has included designing theme park rides such as Th13teen at Alton Towers, said: “After around 17 years of infusion, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society asked me to investigate their experiment. What could be more exciting than being asked to explore two components of known high quality – a Scotch-in-the-making plus 100 fresh red Scotch Bonnet chillies?

“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.”


Exp01 drizzled over the Joelato sorbet
Pic Greg Macvean 

James Freeman, the Society’s Executive Chef, has also created special recipes that showcase the spirit’s culinary potential, including mussels with tomato, anchovies and Exp.01, a teriyaki salmon dish and an incredible chocolate and Exp.01 tart. Meanwhile, SMWS ambassador Logan Shaw recommends mixing the spirit with tonic water, ice, lime and sea salt to create a fiery highball cocktail.

Sonia Raineri and Joe Sykes at The Vaults with sorbet
Pic Greg Macvean

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.”

Exp.01 is available while stocks last as part of a special new Society membership offer:




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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