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Whisky Clubs

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Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:38 am

Hello.
I am new here and looking for more info from others that have started a whisky club.
After reading "The Gathering (Issue 79)" of Whisky Magazine, I thought to myself, "Why Not?"
So a friend and myself set about starting one up and now I am here looking, I think, for advice from others that started or simply take part in a whisky club.
So far, we are a very informal lot that meets up once a month in my workshop. We usually have about 7-12 fellas show up for our version of a tasting. Which simply consists of everyone trying a pull or two from a selected bottle that we all have never had before, and hopefully would want to again.
I am not really sure how others do a "tasting", but we really just focus on that one bottle.
We kicked it all off with a Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition, then a Glenrothes Select Reserve out of curriousity of the new product and then last time....
The Cragganmore 12yr with the Cragganmore Distiller's Edition Port Finish side by side. (like I said, new to here and a new club too.)
This time 'round we'll share a Highland Park 18yr just to see if it is, in fact, worth 3X the cost of the 12yr.
And that is how we roll.
Call ourselves The Erie Island Single Malt Society.
Lots of fun and sharing of knowledge so far.

And the advice from others that I am actually looking for is that this little club is growing so fast that I would like to hear from others that are doing this.
Everyone really likes the informal nature of our group and I think that we all would like to keep it that way.
Anyone?
Advice??
Warnings? Thoughts???
Thanks in advance.
Denny
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Ganga » Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:42 am

Some thoughts for you.

1. At some point, your group will start figuring out what the likes and dislikes are. Remember, there are sherry monsters and peat monsters lurking out there and if several people don't like them, you might consider avoiding them or at least making them aware in advance.

2. If your group grows, a single bottle may not be enough to dram around. You'll need to consider whether you will want to expand to two bottles of the same or examining two different whiskies. Along this vein, you could consider something like two different batches of Aberlour a'bunadh (just and example). Or you could compare a heavily peated Islay to a lighter side Islay - Ardbeg vs. Bunnahabhain. Single cask vs. standard bottlings.

3. At some point, you may want to venture into the realm of single casks, limited editions and independent bottlings. If you have some questions, ask whether it's here or from your local shop or some other forum. This is not to keep you from being adventerous but rather to give you the opportunity to vet out some of the choices in order to avoid whiskies that would be unappreciated by your group. Having a poor whiskies isn't necessarily a bad thing but you probably don't want to put a lot of money into a whisky that won't be enjoyed.

4. If you run into a problem at the group, you can always ask us what we did in that situation. We may not know but it is worth asking.

I participate with the fine folk of the LA Scotch Club. MikeyMad participates in a group up in northern California. Neither really runs anything alike but both seem to be succesful in what they are doing.
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:25 am

Thanks Ganga.
All great points to ponder.
This little club is growning more that I ever thought and we are in the "off season".
This area is chock full of tourists and temporary citizens in the summer months, but they all jet off to Miami, FLA come winter.
Yet...still we are growing.
We are a hearty few that stay on, and I think that with the downsized population, the social aspects of this club may outway anything else.
So far, all is going well. No problems, politics, or "peat monsters".
Your group has how many members?
Are they all active?
Just curious for more details.
Does your group have a hierarchy?
If so, how does it work?
So far, The Erie Island Single Malt Society has no dues, no president, nor a plan beyond the next bottle to try out.
Only a lowly secretary seeking advice in advance from those more experienced.
I really do appreciat any input. :D
Denny
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Muskrat Portage » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:42 am

Denny:
i've set up and run a whisky tasting group up here in the northlands. Feel free to PM me and I'll give you what assistance I can. Ganga has offered some great tips to follow.

One thing I would caution is not to grow too fast. I find a group of around a dozen members is almost too large to function smoothly. My best tastings have been ones with an odd number generally below the 12 mark - 7 or 9 is really works well as people don't "pair off" then.

Here're are some basic tips from my experience:

1) Lay on a Designated Driver
2) Select a set number of whiskies to try. A vertical tasting can work very well (tasting different ages of the same malt). The maximum we sample is 2 flights of 6.
2(a)Prepare a simple handout on the whiskies in question and something which explains how whiskies are made are useful. I prepare a pretty indepth document myself for the guys to take home with them for future reference. Also a blank tasting sheet for those who want to write down their thoughts and experiences of the dram(s).
3) Pour a measured dram - generally a tablespoon is sufficient for nosing and tasting.
4) Cover the glasses for the flight with either a glass lid or even an inverted cupcake paper insert. This keeps the volitiles from exiting the glass. It's useful if all the glasses are similar in size and shape.
5) Set up a tasting mat with the whiskies in a right to left sequence. Your guests are less likely to knock over a full glass.
6) Plan out your flight to start with the lightest whisky and work towards the heavyweights/cask strength behemoths.
7) Have plenty of water available for cleansing the palate between glasses; for adding water to open the nose; and the rinse out the empty glass prior to setting up the next flight.
8) Set out a repast of a light snack after the first flight.
9) Enjoy the evening by being organised enough that you as host aren't away from the gathering.
10)And finally be prepared to offer accomodation at your place for those who shouldn't be allowed out alone.
11) And finally, if you like what you're doing, don't change it at all. It's better to get together and have fun, than it is to try and follow someone's set "rules of engagement".

In all honesty our tastings usually end up descending into a "drinking for effect" convivial time since we don't condone spitting out whisky up here.

In any case, feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Muskrat Portage » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:46 am

Sorry I forgot to type 8 ) and did an 8) instead.
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby laddie teun » Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:52 pm

we started a whiskyclub in our hometown almost 3 years ago. Already there are over 50 members. It is great fun. Growing fast isn't a problem. But you will need structure then. Very important is to have people who are willing to do stuff. And have good and interesting activities. But most of all make sure to have a lot of fun. We do about 4 to 6 tastings every year. But we also have club afternoons. Where we just meet in a local pub and share a few drams. The club has been growing not through promotion but through the activities.
One way of reaching people who might be interested in becomming a member of a local club is hrough your local whisky shop

We also have a very informal club. Isn't really a club, just a group of friends really. For over 12 years we have been commin gtogether a couple of times per year and just taste whisky and have fun.

If you give me your contact detaisl I can also add you to the list of whiskyclubs we have on our Maltstock site (so far 392 clubs from 32 countries). And if you like we can keep you updated on the Maltstock 2010 event (3-5 september). We did Maltstock for the first time last September and it was really great. Maltstock is an international whiskyclub gathering. We are trying to bring together as many whiskyclubs as we can for a weekend of relaxed whiskyfun. But enough promo talk ;-)

There are some very good points already mentioned above. But I do believe that if you do grow (first you have to decide if you want to grow) yuy willneed some structure, as in a president, trreasurer, secratry. In our club we also have a few committes (a few people in charge of organising the activities, others in charge of the club botteling, others organising a whisky trip etc.).
And you need to think about a club fee. You do need money to organise things. Of course you can just have everyone pay for teh activity. But by making people a member and pay a mebership fee, there's a bit more commitment. There are two ways you can go here: high fee and free or almost free activities. Or low fee and pay extra (but at a discount) for the activities. I am a meber of a club with a high fee. Also a meber of a different club with a low fee. Both works. Its just what you prefer. The club with the low fee is a much bigger club. it is easier to become a member. But you also have a lot of members hardly ever see (but whatever, they help pay for your activities). The high fee has much more very active members.'
And also we have the club of friends mentioned above. There's no fee at all. But there's also no structure or organisation.

anyhow: never loose sight of the most important thing: have fun!
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:56 am

Thanks tons fellas.
You already have my mind thinking in new ways.
So far, all is growing well with the EISMS. Informal nature and all...
But I do see the need for more structure.
As our membership grows, so will our tastes and experience level.
So far it seems to be a lot of "ring leading" from myself and one (or two) others.
Far to difficult to be the creative force of a group for me, so I will be bringing up all of your points at the next meeting.
Less than 24 hrs from now in fact.
With a HP 18yr to taste.
So far, the most money we spent on a bottle, so I am a bit nervous.
We do not have Dues, and so far the $$$ comes out of a couple of our pockets and we get the money back at the end of the night...based only on the amount consumed.
Sounds funny to think of it now, after hearing your thoughts.
Anyway...Livin'...Learnin'...and Havin' Fun!
Really quite blown away by hearing from you, laddie teun!
As it was the Mag's article about your Maltstock that gave me my inspiration in this club.
And I have to confess....
I am the clerk/manager of the local state liquor store. :oops:
Really took the job on as a means of obtaining some form of health insurance. Makin' archtop guitars is plenty good to me, but does not meet all the financial demands of a married man.
Not to mention, by runnin' the store, my club has "got a man on the inside"!!!
(that's how we all scored the clynelish on a closeout price! :smoke: "
Thanks again....I'll shout back after the weekend with a few more questions.
Cheers.
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby laddie teun » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:57 am

Always good for any club to have a man on the inside ;-)
And don't worry about the HP 18. I am very confident people will love it. I haven't met anyone yet who did not like this one.

Fun to here that Maltstock actually inspired you! Great! If you like I can keep you and your club updated on Maltstock 2010. Just send me your contact details. (and website if you have one) Does the club have a name?

Good luck and enjoy! If you have any questions please just let me know

cheers

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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Ganga » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:26 pm

Way to take advantage of yourself Denny. :iwbrnt:
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:20 pm

Way to take advantage of yourself Denny


A fella does have to watch out for his supply!
Of the 69 different bottles available in the state of Ohio...
I have 39 to 40 in stock.
And if I don't have it...well...let's just say that I could probably get you an authentic Himalayan Rhinoceros if you really needed one.
But enough braggin' about my store.

I really appreciate all of your input and thoughts.
My club is called "The Erie Island Single Malt Society".
We do not have any web presence other than my e-mail and here in this forum.
I mentioned the ideas you all had to the club and they liked most of them.
Although everyone still wants to keep to the pay as you come idea instead of charging dues.
And that seems fair enough. We'll see as time goes by and things evolve.

And...I almost forgot!!!
The HP 18yr was truely amazing!
We are still not sure if it is worth 3X the cost of the 12yr, but all the members are now better equipped to answer that question for themselves and it only cost each of us a few dollars to find out.
(one member even brought his last bits of HP15yr for comparison)

Thanks again.
Denny
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:59 am

The Erie Island Single Malt Society.
Months later and we're still goin' strong here in OHIO!
January and February are really DEAD in my touristy area and we still have a core of about 10-12 showing up to taste.
Now I am lookin' for advice again as we start to come out of winter.
This group will certainly triple in its tipple!!! as the weekenders and vacationers start to show up to the cottages and watercraft.
Anyone got advice on a club that has 3X the members for six months?
I know we have something odd here, but if you can help, I need to look into that crystal ball.

BTW. This'll seem long winded but here's the print we are getting in a local 'zine for our tasting notes....all 10-12 of us not if Florida that is...

The February Tasting of the Erie Island Single Malt Society featured three very diverse malts from the Highland Region.
The first, an Aberfeldy 12yr, second, a Dalmore 12yr, and finally, the Oban 14yr.

The Whisky produced at the Aberfeldy distillery was once reserved by Dewars as the heart of the White Label Blend, but is now available in limited quantities as a single malt. (our bottle actually being numbered C 60445)
And this particular 12yr expression is "all highland".
With a very light amber colour, the nose is honey and vanilla right off with strong apples and cream wafting after.
The palate starting as light spice, develops into heavier heather and stronger spicy notes as it is savoured.
Finally, the finish reveals the cream and vanilla of the nose with a sweet spicyness so indicative to the malts of this region.
All in all, the Aberfeldy 12yr is a confirmed favourite of mine and a newfound friend to the other EISMS tasters.

Next up is a Whisky that has just returned to the liquor store shelf in Ohio, the Dalmore 12yr.
With a definite red tint, the nose reveals the Oloroso sherry cask with its big fruit and the American white oak with its woody notes and slight smoke.
The palate is bold fruit and spice with the two cask's influence in the mix once again.
The finish is quite spicy yet pleasingly smooth for a Highland that is shockingly deemed "Robust" by our group.
And it is with open arms and raised glasses that the EISMS welcomes Dalmore back to our area.

Finally the Oban 14yr was poured into a glass and set to light.
This Whisky has a light amber that actually hides its character.
Sure, on the nose, the vanilla and cream are as prevalent as expected, but with the addition of caramel and even creme brulee' there is definitely something very distinct offered by this Highlander!
Although the palate was as expected with some spice, the cereal and cake revealed a bit more bite.
And in the finish, the spice and cream give way to the culprit of its complexity...Aye, dry peat smoke!
What a surprise for a highland malt!?!

And there you have it. Three malts from the same region that reveal the diversity of the geography.
The Oban, however mountainous, shows its coastal influence and proximity to Jura and Islay in its use of smoke and peat
The Dalmore, with the Oloroso cask brings in a robust character that betrays the distillery's more NW location.
And Finally, with the Aberfeldy''s central highland local, the tongue is very quick to define this Highland Malt and the finish certainly seals this thought...
There is a LOT to explore in the Highlands of Scotland!

For more information, and don't be bashful, contact the Erie Island Single Malt Society at erieislandsms@gmail.com.
The next tasting of the EISMS will be on Thursday, March 11th and if you are interested, we hope to see you there.

Cheers,
Denny

...thanks for any input. :)
This sure is FUN!
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Ibitsu » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:04 pm

Sorry to go seemingly on a random tangent here, but thought it might be the right place to post wondering if anyone here on these forums attends the events of the Whisky Lounge, particularly the events in Newcastle. With their Peat night just on the horizon, I'm very much looking forward to my first real whisky tasting night.
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Denny Kopp » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:48 pm

if anyone here on these forums attends the events of the Whisky Lounge

Not sure if anyone answered you or not, but I have never been able to get to one.
If you could, please report back on this thread as to how it went.
I would really appreciate it as it may give other clubs ideas on how to run things.

Thanks in advance, Ibitsu.
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Re: Whisky Clubs

Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:12 pm

Denny Kopp wrote:if anyone here on these forums attends the events of the Whisky Lounge


Hi , i'm a regular at Eddies events and i must say they are a fantastic event , i was at the Amrut Launch on Saturday night (full report on my website ) , also if you click on the Archive tab there are a load of reports on Whisky Lounge Tastings in Newcastle , the only one i haven't posted , funny enough , is the Ardbeg Ultimalt on last December......Hmmmm......

Eddie is da man !
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