Love scotch but have no time to travel to Scotland?
Are you aware that many scotch houses make their way through Chicago to bring the craftsmen who make your aqua vitae to YOU? There are many opportunities to learn about your favorites without even leaving our fair city. Last week single malt Balvenie hosted an educational tasting at the Dawson in Chicago. For the lucky attendees, they presented their approach to the craft of whisky-making and the history of their product and provided samples of four of their aged single malts.
Coincidentally, Glenmorangie was also in town last week. Fans were invited to River North to listen to their Director of Distilling and taste some of the standards as well as their newest limited edition single malt. Whether you prefer single malts or blended scotch, these clubs are a way to let producers know you’d like to hear about it when they pass through town. Often, membership also comes with other perks. For example, “Friends of Laphroaig” are given the deed to a 1 square foot plot on the distillery’s property in Scotland, and for most of the scotch brands, club members have access to limited release specials before the general public can get them. Some even make sure to send you special birthday wishes each year.
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of any of these, however, is the opportunity to meet in person with those who are directly involved in the making of the spirit without having to fly to Scotland. Distillers, Master Blenders, Malt Master, and Brand Ambassadors have all come through Chicago to meet with their products’ fans.
Whether you prefer blends or single malts, there is a club for you. Don’t want to pick favorites? Join more than one! Most involve providing some contact info online – which is how you’ll be among the first (and perhaps only) to hear about it when they’ll be passing through Chicago.
The events are intended to be both fun and informative. You’ll often be fed small bites, perhaps a signature cocktail, and then taste through some whiskies while learning a bit about the brand, their approach to production, and sometimes even hear about something they haven’t made public yet. Brands have even been known to bring grains, peat, or water from Scotland so you can feel transported and better understand why a scotch tastes the way it does. If Scotch whiskey is your spirit of choice, why not let your favorite brand know you’re here?
Just some examples of scotch clubs (listed alphabetically):