We really love the idea of helping enthusiasts create their very own Inebriati Whiskey Clubs in their own towns, based on Craig Sandok’s Minnesota club (with his blessing, of course). To that end, we wanted to get some of the operational details of the club to see what we, as an enthusiast organization, could do and what tools we can provide to make creating and maintaining a club easier. So we reached out to Craig to dig into how things started and evolved over the last ten years.
If you haven’t seen it yet, read the Part 1 of Whiskey Night Minneapolis to learn more.
The basic concept of the Whiskey Club is for enthusiasts to create a “bottle library” that is maintained, safely stored, and transported to the club’s tasting meetings. Attendees can bring a bottle to a tasting and, at the end, opt to take their bottle home or donate it to the group’s collection for use at future tastings. The club originated as a Scotch club, but opened up to other whiskeys as it grew.
Question: How did you store and transport the bottles?
Craig: We bought big plastic totes. It wasn’t ideal. They were stored in my basement (and we then got lazy and had the host store them).
Question: What is the frequency for the event?
Craig: We tried quarterly, but the reality is that 3 times a year is ideal. Summer scotch nights were poorly attended. Even when hosted at a lakeside venue.
Question: How do you invite people to it?
Craig: We created a email list. I was typically the keeper-of-the-list. People would email me whenever they wanted to add someone. I would delete names every event when I got the bounce backs. It was a horrible system. We had no RSVP process. We never knew whether to prepare for 25, 55 or 100 guys.
Question: And how do you communicate to those wanting to attend?
Craig: Email only
Question: I’m guessing you started by hosting it at residences, and then at rented locations?
Craig: Yeah. As it grew, we lost people willing to have 100 guys mill through their house.
Question: Were tasting notebooks/pads provided? Any tasting notes accompany each bottle?
Craig: No. We tried a few things – like grouping the Scotches by region and having printed notes about the regional Scotches – but they went largely unnoticed and we abandoned the idea.
Also, we bought “nice” glasses that over the years got broken. In the end, we used whatever glassware the host had and plastic glasses. I think we let the quality control slide.
Also sliding was the bottle list. As the bottles were kept in my basement, I would go through by hand and send out an excel spreadsheet of what was traveling and how much of it there was.
After speaking with Craig, we’ve started developing ideas to create Inebriati Whiskey Club tools to track bottles, collect tasting notes from members, and communicate with your club members. We’re eager to help enthusiasts implement this amazing idea so that they and their friends can explore the diverse world of the “water of life” and find the elixirs that best match their tastes.
If you have ideas of tools we can create to assist you in developing your own Inebriati Whiskey Club, let us know! We’re eager to hear from you!