The Southport Whisky Club is a group of whisky enthusiasts who travel around (Scotland mostly) finding whisky that they like; and bring it back to Southport. The whisky club is based in Southport in Merseyside, England and John Watkinson was happy to share their story through the Inside the Cask blog.
Why did you decide to start a whisky club? How did the Southport Whisky Club start?
The main aim of the Southport Whisky Club is and will always be to bring exciting and interesting whisky experiences to our membership. Based at Remedy in Churchtown, Southport Whisky Club is a friendly and welcoming local club, established in 2017 and run by Victor Porter (The Man With the Hat).
How did you publicise the Southport Whisky Club (to find members)? What is the benefit for the members?
Originally the club was set up as a local club for local people, where everyone was made to feel welcome regardless of how much prior whisky knowledge they had, it was simply a place where we could gather to share a dram and learn more about the whisky that we all love.
Very often we enjoyed tastings led by some of the best brand ambassadors within the industry.
We had a website and the usual Social Media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) which enabled us to communicate with our members and publicise the local meetings.
Since COVID-19 and lockdown things have changed! We had to stop meeting in-person and had to move everything online via our website (https://www.southportwhisky.co.uk/ ) which we completely redeveloped and by utilising Zoom for our online tastings.
Almost a year ago now, we moved online and have developed a tiered membership system, you don’t (and never will) have to pay to be a member of SWC but becoming a paid member does bring a host of exclusive benefits which are detailed here – https://www.southportwhisky.co.uk/club/
What kind of people have joined Southport Whisky Club?
From the early days where an enthusiastic group of local whisky-lovers used to meet once a month, we now have an international reach and literally have members from all over the world.
Most recently we have established the Southport American Whiskey Club Facebook Group for those of our membership who are passionate about drams from across the pond.
What kind of events have you organised? Any trips to the distilleries in Scotland?
Before lockdown, we ran local tastings every month – since lockdown and having to move everything online things have grown faster and further than we could have ever expected! As well as a huge number of virtual whisky tastings, we also organised two Virtual Whisky Festivals last year (2020) which were very well received – all the details about them can be found here https://www.southportwhisky.co.uk/festival-2020/ and here https://www.southportwhisky.co.uk/winter-festival-2020/.
With regards to trips, no – not yet… we did have plans to visit Scotland last year but due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation these have been put on hold.
What other projects have the whisky club worked on/ developed?
As part of the Summer and Winter festivals, we managed to create a range of Festival Exclusive bottlings (from the likes of Glenfarclas, Glen Scotia, Loch Lomond, Bimber and Douglas Laing), this also led to us developing our own Man With The Hat brand and independent bottlings. Details of all our exclusive bottlings can be found here: – https://www.southportwhisky.co.uk/club-exclusive-bottlings/
We also offer cask-shares to our members, this is a longer-term project but hopefully, in time the rewards will be very tasty.
Looking back, what have been the highlights of your experience with the whisky club since its launch?
Without doubt, the best thing about the club is that we are continuing to do what we originally set out to do – bring great whisky and great whisky experiences to our members – long may that continue!