Members’ Notes – Jay Chung

Those with zero familiarity with whisky may have a difficult time understanding what I’m about to describe. That’s not because I’m discussing the esoteric details about distillation, specific local barley strains [SB Local Barley…yummmm], or unique cask varieties. Rather, it’s simply because the generosity and kindness in this story I’m about to tell sounds patently unbelievable and exaggerated if you’ve never been around “whisky folk.”

A little background first for those who don’t know, the London Whisky Club (“TLWC”) was founded by a group of people who are both passionate about whisky and knowledgeable enough to understand that the best way to experience and enjoy whisky is by sharing it with like-minded souls. It’s this founding principle of creating and cherishing shared experiences that caused me to join TLWC, and it’s why I’ll remain a member for as long as the Club exists. 

For the record, I’m an American, from sunny Southern California, with pretty much no real connections to London or England in general…and simply because I’m a TLWC member, my recent visit to London was transformed from a nice vacation into a life-changing whisky-palooza. 

(To the Passionate Whisky Lover)

If you’re at all into whisky, even if you’re barely starting, and you’ve never experienced what it’s like to share a dram with someone equally passionate about it, do yourself a favor and attend a TLWC event.  It is not hyperbole to say that you will come away with a completely enhanced appreciation of whisky.    

Consider this, in what other place or context does a person come into possession of an insanely rare, expensive, and highly prized commodity…and their first instinct is to freely share said commodity?  That’s exactly what happens on a regular basis in the TLWC.  After all, there is nothing sadder than being blown away by an epiphany whisky…and then having absolutely nobody who understands to talk about it with. 

I’m a relative whisky novice, having only discovered its glorious complexity just under three years ago.  This past September, I made my first visit to London, met up with fellow TLWC members for the first time, and I can honestly say my enjoyment of whisky has been permanently expanded far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. 

From the first evening when I landed, members of TLWC met me for a great night of bbq, beer, and bottle swaps.  I’d never met any of these guys before in my life, yet almost before introductory handshakes are done, I’m being handed a special Caol Ila exclusively bottled for the London Whisky Show as a welcome gift.  Unreal generosity. 

The next day, I accompanied a different group of TLWC members, whom I’d never met or spoken to, and proceeded to have the whisky experience of a mother [expletive] lifetime at the London Whisky Show.  Thanks to the generosity of the guys in TLWC, I was deftly shepherded through the chaos and insanity of the Whisky Show.  More importantly, I was steered to all the best whisky in the show; some of which was only handed out because I was there with guys from the club who developed relationships with the brand representatives.  Exclusive access.

You’d think seven-plus hours of continuous whisky would’ve been enough, but the merriment continued on for another seven hours of dinner, cocktails, and fantastic conversation.  At the end of it all, I walked away having had more rare and unicorn whisky in a single day than most whisky drinkers will in their lifetime.  No joke. 

The next day, TLWC was part of a fantastic Chichibu Tasting at Milroy’s of Soho where members were treated to samples from the Chichibu line plus a preview of an exclusive bottling made for Milroy’s.  Sadly, I had other plans that night and couldn’t attend the event.  Knowing this, a generous TLWC member actually booked us both for a different Chichibu tasting at another bar the following evening.  He not only covered the cost of the event, he went to virtually the same event he experienced just the night before…solely so that I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to taste and learn about this exciting, relatively new, Japanese whisky.  Thoughtful beyond belief.

I know my personal experience is a bit unusual since it coincided with the largest whisky show of the year, and not everyone’s first experience with the Club is likely to be an epic multi-day whiskyfest.  That being said, the fantastic people that make up TLWC are the real rarity, and the true reason why my brief visit to London was so memorable. 

From academic administrators to accountants, policemen to pilots, TLWC is made up of an incredibly diverse group of people from all walks of life and backgrounds.  The single commonality is that everyone is incredibly generous, and that generosity really has to be experienced to be believed. 

(To the Pragmatist)

For those who aren’t quite as moved by the human element of belonging to an organization, the following are clear, objective benefits to joining TLWC that should not be missed:

  • Regular tasting events featuring rare, hard to find whiskies;
  • Advance knowledge of whisky related news including upcoming distillery/independent/special releases;
  • Bottle splits with other members to keep costs down & sample sharing; and
  • A host of other benefits from being connected to a highly active and communicative network of whisky-philes (e.g. opinions on different bottles, people to go to whisky events with, help sourcing distillery-only bottles or bottles from areas you don’t live, etc.);

As with any organization, you get out of it what you put in, but the potential benefits of a membership in TLWC are clearly significant.  Why cost yourself by waiting to join?

In the end, whether you’re looking to meet new, like-minded people who will help expand and enrich your whisky journey…or you’re just looking for cool events and other practical benefits, TLWC is undeniably the club to join. 

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