The Cyprus Whisky Association (or TCWA) is a whisky club first established back in 2014.
I first encountered them when I had the opportunity to work in the market and have since met their founders Costas and Demetris whenever possible, whether in Cyprus or abroad.
The TCWA team was kind enough to spare some time on their experience of starting the club and to share some of it through the Inside the Cask blog.
Why did you decide to start a whisky club? How did the TCWA start?
We (Costas Sariyiannis and Demetris Vrontis) shared the same passion for whisky from the early 90s. We liked to taste different kinds of whisky, especially Single Malt scotch whiskies that we could find, mostly from the airport duty free stores. The Cyprus market had a limited number of single malt whiskies to offer back then.
Demetris then moved to Manchester for his studies and work-related engagements and we started road trips to Scottish Distilleries. This meant that we could finally get our hands on a great variety of whiskies and started learning the process for making scotch whisky, maturation and the history of this incredible spirit.
Apart from tasting and enjoying whisky, we both started collecting bottles mostly from Closed or Silent Distilleries. Demetris, joined the Single Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), a whisky club well known for its private bottlings.
Years later we continued to taste, enjoy and collect whisky, as well as reading books and magazines (both subscribers of Whisky Magazine from issue number 1).
In 2014, we both decided to create a whisky club and established The Cyprus Whisky Association (TCWA). It was then that we noticed the big number of people who were fond of whisky in Cyprus.
How did you publicise the TCWA (to find members)? What is the benefit for the members?
We first registered TCWA as a non-for-profit company and started enrolling members from all over Cyprus. News spread fast by social media and through friends and currently have more than 300 members today.
The basic role and activities of TCWA are:
- To bring together whisky enthusiasts from all over Cyprus
- To organize whisky tasting and other events
- To organize whisky training workshops, speeches and seminars for connoisseurs and professionals
- To educate members understand whisky making and the international whisky map
- To introduce whisky fans to the whiskies of the world
- To associate and affiliate with other whisky associations, press, distilleries, importers and other important stakeholders
- To consult and guide its members in any issues concerning whisky purchase
- To promote whisky as a quality product made from natural raw materials
- To promote the sensible enjoyment of whisky
- To provide its members with additional privileges and benefits
Some of these benefits are discount given from shops and distributors to our members, free attendance to most of our whisky tastings and events and priority to our TCWA private bottlings.
What kind of people have joined the TCWA?
Our members are all kind, whisky enthusiasts, new to whisky, connoisseurs, stake holders, collectors, investors. During our gatherings and events, we have discussions and we always learn something new.
What kind of events have you organised? Any trips to Scotland?
So far, we have organized numerous tastings and events. Usually we get together and taste different kinds of whisky, pair whisky with food, talk about our passion, and learn the process of distillation and maturation through videos and presentations.
In May 2017 we had our first Whisky Trip to Scotland, Lowlands, Campbeltown and Islay. It was an incredible trip with masterclasses and tastings at the distilleries of Deanston, Auchentoshan, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Kilchoman and Caol Ila.
Our second trip to the Highlands and Speyside was organized for July 2020 but due to the pandemic, this is now postponed for 2021.
What other projects has the TCWA worked on/ developed?
So far, the TCWA has released three Single Cask bottlings.
First one was in 2016, from Tomatin Distillery https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/86922/tomatin-2006
Then in 2018 we bottled a Quarter Cask from Wolfburn Distillery https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/111878/wolfburn-2014
Last year, 2019 we proudly bottled a single cask from Glen Scotia Distillery https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/133776/glen-scotia-2008
This year, we chose to go further to the East and bottle a single cask from the world awarded Indian Distillery of Paul John. The bottles are expected to arrive by the end of 2020.
To date, all bottles from our Single Cask releases are sold out, been highly rated by whisky connoisseurs, as well as being sought after and fetch high prices in auctions.
Looking back, what have been the highlights of your experience with the TCWA since its launch?
The highlights of our experience would be:
- Choosing, after blind tasting, the right casks to be bottled for the TCWA
- The trip to Scotland with the association as well as other private trips we have had
- Taking part as stakeholders and supporters of the 2018 Whisky Live in Cyprus
- Honoured to be Judges at the World Whisky Awards for three consecutive years (pictures below)