We’re still doing this?
Hey, we guess so! Against all expectation, the end of this past July marks the fourth anniversary of the first time the original group of us got together, before we even called ourselves Scotchology. Before all kinds of hi-jinks, travels, and tastings. And despite the best of intentions to make this an annual sort of thing, it has been two years since the last update. It seems like a long time since July of 2013, when four of us began to regularly meet for the expressed purpose of exploring single malt scotch together. We’d never have dreamed we’d find ourselves where we are now. Wait, where are we?
Year(s) in Review
Even though the website has remained relatively constant, our group itself has continued to evolve to meet dynamic changes. Almost three years ago, one of the founders (Henry) moved to Seattle, followed a year later by another (Kate) moving to Columbus. They are missed and both are definitely still with us in spirit. We’re not the only whisky-loving folks in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, though, so we invited others to join us and through common consensus seem to have found a rather stable place where we regularly have about eight people attend. We’d love to have you believe that total was arrived at by some harrowing Hunger Games-esque manner of winnowing involving scotch and lightsabers, but the process was in reality pretty organic and did not involve 12-sided dice in the slightest. Some members have children, which mean there can be a lot more energy and pizzazz, even if the gatherings don’t go to midnight anymore.
However, we still try new scotch and other whiskies from around the world when we get the chance. We still go to tastings in the area when we can. We’ve continued to host a World Whisky Day tasting four years and running. We started an interview series called Whisky Wisdom and an off-the-cuff review series called SnapShot. We’ve even had a guest post! All of these things aren’t meant to replace our regular reviews (80+), they’re only content enhancements. We’ve continued to give tastings while on our travels, helped by our growing interaction with the #whiskyfabric on social media, along with giving private tastings to friends and strangers every once in a while. It’s been a fun way to grow while purposefully keeping it informal and unstructured.
Awards? Not Quite…
One thing that remained unchanged since our founding has been to not explicitly rank what we taste using any kind of grading or award system. In fact, we’ve talked a lot about our Pour Judgments to help make things clearer. Like before, we have had a few whiskies that seem to earn unanimous praise from all concerned, and so we wanted to recognize that by awarding Scotch of the Year to the following (the “year” frame being June to May):
Scotch of the Year – Year 3: Glenmorangie “Companta”. This one was very difficult for us, as this year was full of a lot of strong contenders. At the end, however, it came down to what malt stuck in all our collective memories the most, and this unique dram fit the bill. Read our review of it to find out the specifics. If you can ever find a bottle, snap it up in a heartbeat. Better yet, find two, and send one to us!
Scotch of the Year – Year 4: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Islay Barley. This one might not have a sexy cask finish or be part of some limited edition, but we found this scotch simply stood out to us all as an amazing whisky. Not that we didn’t have good expectations of Bruichladdich, but it surpassed even those. Better yet, this malt seems to be fairly accessible and is not unusually expensive.
Special Mention – World Whisky: Brenne Estate Cask. What were we saying about a sexy cask finish? One of the great things about exploring whisky, especially those outside of Scotland, are the wonderful, creative flavors and their stories from all over the world. Nothing else we’ve yet tasted has been anything like the Brenne with its amazing nose and delightful taste. This malt is unique and exceptional. Hands down a phenomenal dram for the price.
The development along the social media lines has been interesting. We’re sitting at around 145 followers on Facebook, but that isn’t where we get a lot of traction. Feel free to like us, though! Twitter has been a phenomenal platform for engaging the whisky community. It’s here where the bulk of our online engagement has happened, with almost 2,000 direct followers and more in the greater #whiskyfabric. It’s led to in-person meetings, whisky exchanges via mail, phone calls, all sorts of stuff. It’s taught us that whisky is definitely best when shared with both old friends and new acquaintances, and can serve as a common bond between a wide array of people.
Plans for the Future
If nothing else, we’ve learned that one constant of Scotchology has been change, whether in membership, format, media or exploration. We had no idea when we started four years that we’d be where we are now. Life’s funny that way, isn’t it? We have some ideas, if no definite plans, on new things to try, including:
- Website redesign
- One year of independent bottlings
- More interviews
- Video review or YouTube Live session
- Branch out social media
- Continued whisky exploration around the world
We continue to be surprised and happy at each step in this whisky journey, and look forward to the drams we’ll taste, people we’ll meet, and find other ways to explore this wondrous whisky world in which we live. As always, we’ll continue to chronicle our adventures here. Here’s hoping our paths cross over a dram soon. Cheers!