Tips On How To Start Your Own Whisky Club

10 February 2015

Throughout 2015, we’ll be bringing you a range of specially curated blog posts from whisky aficionados across the globe. 

This particular post has been written by Greg Dillon, author of GreatDrams.com a site for all whisky enthusiasts providing news, reviews, interviews and more.

A seasoned expert in the single malt whisky category, Greg’s created a step-by-step guide to starting your own whisky club. 

Whisky is a drink that brings people together. It’s diverse, has a long and interesting history, and is simply something to enjoy together. It’s for reasons like these, and many others, that whisky clubs are started.

So isn’t it time to start your own? Here’s our guide on how to do just that.

1. Go to those in the know

What better place to start than with people who know whisky and whisky drinkers? Head down to your local off licence or bar, or anywhere that has the best stock of the good stuff and get talking.

The promise of regular business from a thirsty whisky club is sure to pique the interests of any bar owner. You can also find out about like-minded people and perhaps get in contact with others who want to join a whisky club.

2. Educate yourself

Before leaping in to starting a whisky club, it does well to learn a bit more about the product you’re going to taste. This begins by going over the basics of tasting, learning how to nose and decipher more about the dram from the general look of it.

Once you have an idea of how to taste whisky, it might also be useful to then look into investing in some quality glassware. Glencairn glasses are the best for nosing and are typically what the professionals use.

Even if you’re not being too serious about this aspect of tasting props, it always helps to cement the purpose of your group, turning a drinking club into a tasting club.

3. Communication

Once you have your members in place make sure to remain in regular contact. Find a way to reach out to everyone in your club, be it through a Facebook group, a mailing list or simply through text.

“About four years later I’d been exploring different styles of single malts and blends and I thought, why not share these experiences with other people? I found myself sitting drinking alone – ‘Billy-no-mates’. I had friends that would have the odd dram when they came round but didn’t really share the affiliation I had with it. I wanted to try and bring a group of people together to enjoy and learn about whisky. Whisky is a multi-sensory experience and being in good company as well can go on to make some great memories. I think we’ve achieved that and made several friends along the way.”

– Andy, Manchester Whisky Club

4. Don't do it all yourself

Delegation is key to the organisation of any successful group. Don’t keep the burden of planning meetings and supplying whisky all to yourself, feel free to share it out to the others in your group and see how quickly bonds form.

“I started off thinking I could do everything, but it soon takes over your life if you don’t ask for help from the others in the group, we have a balance now that we each bring a bottle and rotate the chairmanship of our meetings so that everyone gets to have their say, and gets to sit back and relax!”

– Jack, New York ‘Band of Brothers’

Open up the discussion to the floor, be it discussion of certain whiskies or of what to do at your next meeting. Welcome suggestions and encourage people to speak up with their own ideas, you never know what you might get up to or how the conversation will turn out!

5. Keep things exciting

Don’t let your meetings become stagnant. While routine is great and a well-organised group is more likely to stay together, don’t let this become strict. Try doing different things like having theme nights, or having a meal with your whisky. 

“I’m part of a whisky club that does not meet all that often – well some more than others – but we have a private Facebook group and buy bottles together that get split out amongst the members, it means that if any of us are on our travels we are able to pick something up, even if expensive, knowing that the group will love to try something new and we get to split the cost between seven of us”

 – Greg

Why not plan a trip too? This is where previous communication with distilleries comes in. There are plenty of distilleries, like Glenfiddich, that offer group tours and tours by appointment, so why no take advantage of these and make the whisky tasting experience that much more real?

If you’re part of a whisky club too, or you’re considering starting one, then get in touch with myself on either Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Greg Dillon
Author of GreatDrams.com