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STRAIGHT UP

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The Ezra Brooks Guide to Starting Your Own Whiskey Club

Groucho Marx famously said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” — but no one says no to whiskey.

Forming a club dedicated to whiskey is a fun way for you and your whiskey-loving friends to share your passion.

The idea of a club surpasses your everyday recreational hang-out. Clubs have a higher purpose. You’re gathering not just to drink whiskey — but to learn something while you’re at it. Educating yourself about what you’re drinking enhances your ability to enjoy it. And learning something together strengthens bonds between friends.

Define the parameters
Do you love a plan, or are you the more casual type? There’s a lot of room to go crazy with this, from giving your club a name (may we suggest “The Ezra Brooks Whiskey Club”?) to penning a mission statement to assigning titles and tasks.

While you don’t want to suck the joy out of something fun, there’s something to be said for structure. When you lay down guidelines, people take it seriously. Plus, who doesn’t love an appointment on their calendar that says “whiskey club meeting”?

Decide on the basics

  • Time: You need to establish when you’ll meet and how often. Make it frequent enough that it’s a regular thing — but not to the point that it becomes overwhelming. Consider monthly meetings, maybe on a Sunday afternoon or Saturday night.
  • Size: The size of your club is directly related to the number of servings in a bottle and how many bottles you’re ready to consume. Time to do the math.Let’s say that each club meeting will be dedicated to one Ezra Brooks label. A bottle holds 750 milliliters, or just over 25 ounces. A typical pour is 1.5 ounces. That would be 16 servings.If you factor two servings per person, then a club of eight is just right.
  • Communication: You need a place where everyone can check in. Why not a place like a Facebook group, where photos can be posted for those who couldn’t make it.
  • Finances: One of the main selling points of a club is that it allows you to try a variety of spirits at a shared cost.But you’ll need to determine what’s going to be spent and who’s going to spend it. Do you designate an official treasurer who can collect contributions? Or do you take turns, with one person footing the bill for each meetup?
  • Where: Which club member has the biggest meeting space? In the old pre-COVID-19 days, your location could be as simple as a kitchen table. For social distancing, a patio or the courtyard of someone’s condo building works great.Your whiskey club can be a mobile thing. You don’t need much in the way of setup, other than your bottle of choice, glasses, a mixer or two, and maybe some notecards.

Pick a theme
You’ve decided that each meetup will delve into one member of the Ezra Brooks family: Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Straight Rye, Old Ezra 7, and Bourbon Cream.

From there, the options are seemingly endless. You can keep it simple: Compare the whiskey sipped straight versus diluted with water or chilled on ice. You can explore its role in cocktails by mixing up two to three cocktails that the club can review. You can pair it with foods. Serve it straight with a few snacks, savory or sweet. Or try pairing it with a cigar, using this handy pairing primer.

You could even stage a taste-off with a compatible sibling from Lux Row Distillers — say, Ezra Brooks Straight Rye versus Rebel Yell Straight Rye.

Consider offering tasting notes on proof, age, color, aroma, palate, and finish — so easy to find on Ezra Brooks’ website — as well as scorecards for members to jot their ideas down.

Feel free to recruit club members to help with this task. Being actively involved will make the club more fun and educational for all.