I have started a monthly tasting group here in Cleveland Ohio and I need some advice. Currently we are in our second month and so far I have provided the bottles because I'm really trying to get people in the area interested in scotch. The first tasting was a huge success. While there were only 5 of us, other than me the other 4 were just casual scotch drinkers (the occational dram at a bar). We did 6 basic scotches one from each region of scotland and the response was great. They didn't realize the variation in types of scotch and by the end of the night everyone had their opinions on what they though was the best. This month we are going to try 4 different highland scotches again provided by me out of bottles I have open and some that I plan on opening.
Heres the question:
Going forward I would like to continue providing a variety of scotches and the group has agreed that they will start chipping in towards the cost but I'm not sure what to charge. I have some ideas but would like to know what has worked for other tasting groups. One thing to remember is that in ohio there is a very limited selection of scotches and most of them are already open in my collection. Therefore everything we try will need to be ordered which makes it harder to have people bring their own bottle.
Here are my thoughs
1. Let people pick bottles from a list each month I will order them from out of state at one of the multiple places I know and have that person pay for his bottle then keep it when the tasting is over.
Pro: everybody chips in, less cost for me, they get a bottle to have at home
Con: makes it hard for people that can't come each month, harder to set up themed tastings
2. I buy the bottles and charge a fixed % for the cost of the bottles say 10-20% of the cost of the bottles to each person. I then keep what is left after the tasting.
Pro: I can still select scotch based on a theme, I'm not paying the full cost, monthly cost will be based on value of the scotch, the whole collection will grow giving more tasting option after we finish the highlited malts
Con: It will still cost me the difference (not really a huge concern of mine), people may complain that they didn't get their value in scotch if they are light drinkers (this is my big concern, I don't want people to think I'm trying to make money on this)
3. I buy the bottles then split the cost evenly between everyone, I then divide what is left into sample bottles for each person to take home.
Pro: everyone chips in, little cost to me, everyone gets to take home some scotch
Cons: I need more sample bottles (could be a pain)
I'm thinking option 2 and would like some advice on percentage to charge, lets keep it in percentage of bottle price for simplicity since we all have different currencies and bottles vary so much. If anyone has other suggestions I would love to hear them as well.
I'm not looking to start a bar and make money but I want to have a good collection so that when people come over they can try multiple different scotches and really try and build a base of whisky drinkers in the city of Cleveland.
Thanks in advance
Thanks for the help
If you wish to slowly build your collection, get each member to pony up a set fee, say $50.00 - 100.00 depending on the price point of the whiskies you are going to order. At the end of the evening, have a draw in which each person gets one bottle to take home and you are left with the last bottle. In 12 months, you'll have 12 new bottles. We've done this with our group and nobody was unhappy with the outcome.
As for keeping your tastings "fresh" consider having a planned profile for each tasting. For example, one month could be one of the regions, Lowland, Highland, Islay, Island, Speyside and so forth which could lead up to a HTH of the most popular whiskies the next month. Next time around could be a vertical tasting of six different ages of SM, or a "Heavy Hitters" tasting - all Cask strengths. Another could be Silent stills. The limit is only your imagination and pocketbook depth.
We have 12 in our group and I prefer to only have 8-9 attending as it makes the group intimate and small enough to fit comfortably around the table. Any questions, feel free to PM me and I'll provide information on handouts I've created and the like.
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