With the thousands of amazing whisky options on the market how does one prioritise where to spend their hard earned? “Should I buy this bottle, or that bottle?” “Which dram should I buy when I am at the bar from the list of 100’s?” This is a weekly dilemma for me as I work my way through the anxiety and buyers stage fright of the expansive whisky world. Most of the time I will turn to friends, expert tasting notes or social media to decide which way I go. But all to often this is dominated by people’s personal preference of brand bias.
For people new to the whisky market this is even worse with judgment and prejudice shown towards them for having a certain opinion or taste that differs from the self-proclaimed experts. There has got to be a way where you can try whisky in a safe, judgment free environment. Well look no further, there is. And it can be as simple as catching up with a few friends.
Whisky clubs, tasting groups or group meet ups are great ways to break into the Whisky market. Each have a different way of getting you involved depending on your budget and the time you have to spare. Here is how they work.
Whisky clubs are often subscription-based groups that you can join to help guide you into the world of whisky. For a fee you will receive some whisky with the amount depending on the amount you spend and the club you join. The clubs will also generally send you out magazines or give you access to special up coming bottlings. This is a great option for beginners if you would like someone to make the decision for you as to which whisky you are getting next or if you are an experienced drinker and want special access to limited releases.
Group meet ups usually start on social media. This will be where an event will be posted for everyone to meet at a specific bar or distillery. The bar will generally put on a special menu for the day giving you some great options to try. On top of this you will also get to meet some like minded people and start to develop your own whisky network.
Finally, and my personal favourite is tasting groups. A tasting group can be anything from a few friends who each bring a bottle of their favourite whisky, to an organised event with a host and a blind taste test. Either way you are typically sitting around a table with a charcuterie board and great whisky, tasting, comparing and sharing your whisky thoughts with good friends.
All of these “clubs” are great ways to learn about whisky. From the first timer to the most experienced whisky connoisseurs. In the end the worst-case scenario from the night is that you drink great whisky and catch up with some friends. Isn’t that essentially what whisky is made for?