It was a bit selfish, initially. Three of us were newly married working our first jobs out of college. Nothing about us said rich or exclusive. Meanwhile, Seattle’s cocktail and spirits scenes were booming.
My friend Ryan had been a home bartender for a while, and a few others wanted to get more into whiskey, but it’s an intimidating and expensive habit! Nobody wanted to buy multiple $50–100 bottles of whiskey just to discover they didn’t like what they tasted.
Besides buying individual pours at a bar ($10–20 each, depending on your taste), there was only one other local option, a “society” requiring monthly, quarterly, and annual dues — oh, and a dress code. Why was everyone making this so hard? We didn’t care what the ads said — income, clout, nor dress should be barriers to taste and learn about whiskey.
In the Summer of 2013, a selfish idea quickly became something we knew must exist for the people just like us we’d yet to meet. With my friends Mike, Mark, and Ryan, we formed the type of community we ourselves wanted:
- A way to taste and learn about whiskey
- In an environment as open to beginners as veterans
- Among people with similar interests
- For as low a cost as possible
The point wasn’t that we were experts ready to share our genius with the public (although we’ve thankfully been able to share our growing knowledge with many people over time). This was about people, pooling together their resources, to share in their interest of whiskey on a monthly basis. We called it the Seattle Whiskey Collective.
Today, 50 members pay $15/month to taste three ounces of American whiskey at monthly gatherings. The leftover alcohol goes toward member cocktail parties and events, and we try to plan additional free distillery tours and other local meet-ups to foster friendships any way we can.
As more and more people ask me about what we do, the best way I can explain it is “equal parts whiskey and community.” As our website states, all we’re doing is gathering to taste whiskey together, and we let the rest happen from there.
We have members who are men and women, young and old, novices and collectors. A few have been with us since the very first meeting, and new people join all the time. Friends have been made here, events planned, bottles shared, and new favorite flavors discovered.
Whatever the Seattle Whiskey Collective becomes, I hope it’s always known as a whiskey group that only works because of its people. There are lots of ways to drink whiskey, but we think it’s better together.
Originally posted on Mark's Medium.