July 2015 marks the two year anniversary of Scotchology. A few months before, some of us had gone out at various times to a fantastic local watering hole and realized we all liked Scotch. Wouldn’t it be amazing, we thought, if there were a Scotch-of-the-month club just like there are innumerable avenues for wine enthusiasts? It would be expensive, undoubtedly. But what if we each chipped in, say, $20? There were four of us and $80 a month opens up a lot of options. So we met in June 2013 and have been meeting every month since, growing our experience and exuberance for this fine spirit. To celebrate, we thought we’d talk about where things are, what we’ve learned in the past couple years and where we’d like to go from here.
Year in Review
What a year it’s been. Last June, one of our founders – Henry – moved to Seattle. We’ve mostly forgiven him, because Seattle is a pretty awesome place. He Skypes in when able, but we still miss his presence (and pithy turns of phrases in the reviews). However, our friends Michael and Jenny joined us midway through our first year and so regular gathers consist of five to seven people, depending on guests. We’ve been dealt another blow, for this summer will see the departure of yet another founding member, Kate.
The past year hasn’t all been sad news, however. We’ve continued to meet monthly, enjoying good times and good food along with a different Scotch every month. The more we find out, the more we realize how much more there is to learn. In the past year, we designed and made business cards for the website. We’ve joined Twitter and better learned how to manage other social media. We’ve used those media to communicate directly with distilleries and connect with fellow malt lovers in our area. We’ve developed the website and figured out more of what we want our reviews to be like, along with a more consistent schedule. Some of us have held tastings, especially for those with little to no experience with Scotch before. These are usually small, intimate gatherings with people we mostly know and are great fun on a lot of levels. We’ve even held a private tasting as the prize for a silent auction! We held our second tasting to celebrate World Whisky Day this past May, with another stellar lineup and turnout. Most of all, we’ve met new people, made new connections, along with sampling even more great Scotches.
Awards? Not Quite…
One of the decisions we made very early on was to not award points or stars or grades to the whiskies we reviewed. It made no sense, really, since there were four or five of us and the chances of all agreeing on the same rating were improbable (hence, the space in each review for venting our personal feelings about any particular whisky). However, we did notice that a few stood out above all the others each year. Therefore, it is with great pleasure we declare the debut of Scotchology’s Scotch of the Year. The frames are June to May because of when we began, rather than based on a calendar year. There was no voting, no rating, no blind taste testing. Simply put, out of all the monthly Scotches we chose each year, one definitely stood out by common consensus.
Scotch of the Year – Year 1: Oban Distiller’s Edition
As a group, we have never finished off a whisky so fast (two months/meetings). Indeed, so quickly did we consume it that the review for it had to wait a year until we picked up another bottle, because the first one was gone before we could put finger to keyboard. An amazing whisky.
Scotch of the Year – Year 2: Talisker Storm
This one took us by surprise, perhaps because none of us had ever had Talisker before so had no idea what to expect. A great island whisky, full of smoke and brine that made it enjoyable for those of us who like Islay characteristics but also good for those who are not as big a fan of peat monsters. Eminently drinkable and well balanced, something for everyone. And not expensive!
Special Mention – Private Stock: Ardbeg Ardbog
Just because we make it a habit to regularly pool our money to get good Scotch for our club doesn’t mean we don’t also like to go out and get Scotches for our own personal collections for any number of reasons. So why not review and share them amongst friends too? We have mixed feelings about the preponderance of special bottlings by distilleries. What we don’t have mixed feelings about, however, is Ardbeg. Their committee release from 2013 is amazing and, while rare and expensive, is still worth every penny.
We set up a Facebook page at around the same time as our site and have slowly been inching towards 100 Likes since then. Sound a little sad? Not really, since we can only invite our friends. It’s slowly started to see an uptick recently, but this is not our main outlet by any stretch. Have you not liked us yet? Please do!
Twitter has been incredibly effective at driving traffic to our website, finding people in the industry, and connecting with Scotch aficionados all over the world. More to the point, we’ve found a few here in our area. Jorge and Ben at the entertaining @scotchandamovie joined us at our World Whisky Day tasting this past May, and we expect to meet a few others. If you’re reading this, please reach out to us via Twitter, Facebook or email. We’d love to hear from you!
Plans for the Future
Overall, we’re pretty happy with how the past two years have gone. To say this has grown more than we’d ever dreamed would be a vast understatement. We’ve had a few changes we haven’t expected, to say the least, but the future looks bright. Even though two of the group’s four founders will have moved out of the area shortly, we’ve expanded our fellowship and are becoming better known in the area. We look forward to the group’s continual evolution. Eventually, as those founders who have moved become better settled, we’d like to think they start up or find Scotch clubs in their new areas, meaning Scotchology would eventually have branches all over the country. First Minnesota, then the world. 🙂
As always, please send us any and all suggestions you can think of. Let’s raise a glass to Scotchology’s third year, may it be as fun for you as it’ll be for us!