Starting a “wee” Whisky Club
How did “wee” start.
Several years ago in 2000, I found myself in a new job on a wee island off the coast of British Columbia, and with some disposable income.
I had been formally introduced to some fine single malts by my new employer.
I recall the salty aroma of the Bruichladdich 10 year, the rich crispness of the old Highland Park 12 and the creamy sherry of the Macallan 12.
These were the bait that snagged my attention. Quickly, I had begun to fall in love with whisky beyond the passion that my boss held for the wee dram, and together, we found a few colleagues who also enjoyed Scotch whisky.
The more I spoke about whisky, single malt Scotch, at that time, the more people I found who would make comments like, “Yeah, I like that stuff,” or “Scotch, mmmm….” Many people were Scotch-curious, having tried it once or twice and found it intriguing. Finding people who enjoyed a fine malt was easy, and the conversations held a cultish fascination to them.
I began to hold tastings for the group. I would buy four bottles and crack them open and charge a small fee to cover the cost of the selection.
The small group that attended really enjoyed the format, but I found myself wanting tastings of more whiskies. Also, people wanted to start taking them home. We also needed food.
Some time early in my journey, I met a whisky guru – a Malt Maniac who lived near me, and he and I had recently won Riedel whisky glasses from Aberlour for our some online tasting reviews. During our conversations, he encouraged me to continue to grow a club, to bring people together for the mutual appreciation (or obsession) of whisky. At that point I attended the Victoria Whisky Festival, and my world was blown away.
(Aside – for those who have not attended a whisky festival, I urge you to find a way. The Victoria Whisky Festival is an incredible experience that is valuable for those who are just starting their journey or for those who have been plodding along for years.)
Over time I was able to connect to more people, and on March 29th, 2007, I created a new format for our “wee” club:
I had gathered 8 friends, colleagues and acquaintances, these were the first 8 people who responded to my email (I am always the first to respond to my call out for tasters) and we all had a curiosity about Scotch.
I explained our new format. which works till today.
We share the tasting in all capacities – the whisky, the cost, the food, and the fun. Initially I bought 8 whiskies that represented 6 different regions of Scotland – Lowlands, Speyside, Highlands, Islands, Campbeltown, and Islay, and we shared the average cost of each bottle.. Each person is required to bring something to share – an appy, dessert, beer, more whisky – and we would sequentially taste the whiskies blind. Laughter and conversation, discussion and frivolity ensued, and at the night’s end, we would draw cards to see who would get to choose a bottle. The Ace chose first, and the 8 chose last. On March 29th, 2007, we held our first official tasting with a wonderful line up
12yo Rosebank Old Malt Cask 50%
9yo Glen Spey Madeira Murray McDavid at 43%
1993 Tullibardine Port Wood 46%
Arran c/n 812 from a Cream Sherry cask at 56.4%
9yo Springbank Marsala at 58.0%
1992 Glenrothes at 43%
16yo Bowmore Oloroso 53.8%
Bruichladdich 3D3 –
Norrie Campbell bottling at 46%
That night, I took home the bottle of Arran and we haven’t looked back !