The Basics Of Running A Club (Setting the Pace)
This post is going to be a lot of “Do not.” This is stuff I’ve learned from talking with others and from my own experience. Don’t let it discourage you from starting a club. It’s a ton of fun!
Whiskey is Meant to be fun
The most common response I get when I ask people if they want to attend is this –
“I don’t know anything about whiskey. I like it, but I wouldn’t fit in.”
DO NOT let this be the way people feel about this. The whole point of the tasting is to have fun. If your intention is to become some elite whiskey drinker so that you can talk down to people about it, you’re a jerk and you’re ruining it for everyone. This isn’t wine, and we don’t want it to be.
Remember, the goal is to have fun and learn something. If the thing someone learns is that they like the cheap whiskey better than the more expensive whiskey, they have learned a valuable lesson and are probably going to save a lot of money until their palette evolves a bit. As whiskey drinkers, some jabs here and there are fine, but don’t make people feel bad about themselves.
nobody's an expert
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking whiskey since you were 2 years old and you’ve read every book ever and you own a distillery or you’re also brand new to whiskey, you’re not the expert at this club. Even if you are, don’t act like it. Your job as the host is to answer questions to the best of your ability in very brief and simple terms and only do so if someone asks. Don’t impose your knowledge just to boost your own ego.
Everybody's review matters
There are some people who get loud and opinionated when they drink. I know, I was surprised too. But, it’s true. When people start chatting between reviews be assertive. Call attention to a single person and begin the reviews. Make sure that everyone is respected when they give their thoughts about a drink.
Also, make sure people don’t talk about the whiskey before everyone gets a chance to share their review. If you hear someone else say, “Wow! This tastes just like cinnamon chewing gum!” That’s all you’ll be able to think about. Remind your guests to wait until their turn to share their opinions about the whiskey.
At least in the state of Oregon at the time of this writing, a standard pour of liquor is 1.5 ounces. Over serving your guests is stupid and irresponsible. During the first hour of your club, make sure you only pour this much at most for each person. We often do 3 bottles, so that means .5 ounces per pour in the course of an hour. Do your best to space them out a bit.
After you’re done with your tasting it’s totally fine to allow the people who paid for the bottles to pour more drinks. Just make sure that you provide water, food, and a place to rest for a while afterward. It’s not worth it to let someone drink themselves silly and then drive off into trouble. Take care of these people.
Also, and this may seem obvious, don’t invite anybody who is under age. Know your local laws and don’t pour anything for someone who isn’t allowed to drink. This goes for your friends who are dealing with legal trouble or any other situation that makes this not a great environment for them. Once again, the goal is to have fun. If you get your friends into more trouble, your club will be a lot less fun.