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Last month, virtual whisky tastings reached their zenith. Heavyweights like The Whiskey Exchange and Cadenhead’s hosted their flagship events online, with The Whisky Show hosting countless excellent events and the much anticipated Cadenhead’s Virtual Whisky Week knocking it out of the park. November, on the other hand, appears to be the calm before the storm, with December already providing some huge tastings. As a result, we get to showcase some of the less heralded but equally incredible tastings, as well as the usual big hitters, starting with next week’s events.

Next Wednesday, the first big tasting of the week occurs with London Whisky Club holding their Sullivan’s Cove tasting. These are rarely on shelves in the UK, with the Tasmanian Distillery at the forefront of Southern Hemisphere whiskies. The tasting will provide the opportunity to try their Double Cask, Single Cask Brandy and Vodka, which is technically their new make spirit.

Thursday will see Royal Mile Whiskies hosting their Berry Brothers and Rudd tasting. There are five drams on offer, with the Williamson 2012 and Ardmore 2009 two of the standouts. There will also be a mystery dram, and the event will be hosted by BBR experts Ronnie Cox and Johnny McMillan.

Friday provides a great a few options, with tastings from The Wee Dram, Whisky-Online, East Coast Whisky and L Mulligan. The Wee Dram are hosting their Dalmore and Fettercairn tasting, which is now sold out. East Coast Whisky are also holding an incredible event, an Ardmore Vertical tasting. There are nine drams on offer, ranging from 9 years old to twent six years old, all from independent bottlers.

Whisky-Online are holding their Gordon & McPhail Tasting, hosted by Stephen Ranking and Luke Todd-Wood. There are 8 drams on offer, with standouts such as the Highland Park 2006 13 year old Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength and the Dalmore 2005 13-Year-Old Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength.

L Mulligan have been hosting some incredible tastings lately, with some rave reviews from attendees in Ireland. This should be no different, with their World Whiskey Tasting. They have thought outside the box with this one, with six drams including France’s Kornog Roc'h Hir and Holland’s Zuidam Millstone 5 Year Old Lightly Peated. This is an opportunity to try world whiskies you may never try again.

Finally, Saturday belongs to The Dram Society, hosting the second part of their exciting Scottish Regions tasting. There are three drams on offer, covering drams from the Campbeltown, Island and Islay Scottish whisky regions. With the beginning of the lockdown, this is the best way to share drams and enjoy the craic with other whisky aficionados. Enjoy!

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Whisky clubs and societies have been around for decades. Whisky clubs have always been a great place for likeminded individuals to meet and share their love of the water of life. If there was a whisky club in your area, it was the perfect way to socialise and join in the shenanigans. With the recent lockdown and issues with pub openings, however, many whisky clubs have ventured online, and have found great success. People from around the UK and Ireland, and even across Europe, can forge friendships online based on their love of whisky. Here we have listed five reasons why you should join a whisky club today:

1. Whisky clubs are a great way to try new whisky from the comfort, and indeed safety, of your home. At the start of lockdown, whisky clubs were restricted to members from their geographical area. This changed, of course, and instead whisky clubs were able to cast their net further, increasing membership and put on some spectacular tastings. Whisky clubs like Black Country Whisky Society, Sussex Whisky Appreciation Group, Heart of England Whisky Alliance and London Whisky Club have consistently put on some of the best tastings in the UK, while the likes of Waterford Whiskey Society and the Irish Whiskey Society have been hosting some excellent online events.

2. Whisky clubs are a great place to further your whisky education. Your whisky knowledge will grow exponentially, as will your thirst for knowledge.

3. Whatsapp groups and Facebook groups of whisky clubs are usually the best way to find information on flash sales and exclusive offers.

4. Fancy a bottle but can’t justify the price? Whisky clubs are the perfect arena for bottle splits, sample sharing and dram swaps. Instead of trying one or two whiskies a month, you could be trying twenty.

5. They are a great way to make new friends and socialise during the current pandemic. Virtual whisky tastings are so much more than seminars, with discussions often branching out in various directions as the drinks flow!

Check out some of the clubs below today, you won’t regret it.

Glasgow Whisky Club

Dublin Whiskey Club

Whiskey Club NI

Cork Whiskey Society

Waterford Whiskey Society

Wessex Whisky Club

London Whisky Club

Manchester Whisky Club

SE23 Whisky Club

Southport Whisky Club

Sussex Whisky Appreciation Group

Birmingham Whisky Club

Black Country Whisky Society

Irish Whiskey Society

Dusties Whisky Club

East City Whisky Club

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With the tastings coming thick and fast, here is a roundup of next week’s highlights.

Cadenhead’s are undoubtedly the big news next week, hosting their virtual festival with some exceptional tastings. From Monday to Friday, each night will focus on one brand, with tastings from Hazelburn, Kilkerran, Longrow, Cadenhead’s and Springbank. There were also exclusive bottlings available for each tasting, such as the Springbank 26 Year Old Virtual Open Day bottling.

Various whisky clubs throughout the UK and Ireland will also be hosting some fascinating tastings. Waterford Whiskey Society will host their Walsh whiskey tasting on Tuesday, London Whisky Club will host their Chichibu tasting on Wednesday and SWAG will host their Uncle Nearest tasting with brand ambassador Matt Neal on Friday.

There are also excellent tastings from indie bottlers and distilleries. Isle of Raasey will hold their exceptional tasting on Friday, discussing the maturation of their forthcoming signature single malt released in 2021. The combination of Rye whiskey, Chinkapin Oak and Bordeaux red wine casks should make for a fascinating spirit. Great Drams will also host their Archive Tasting on the same night, tasting some of their most successful releases, including two that are no longer available.

Possibly the highlight of the week may be the North Star Tasting, with the inimitable Ralfy, available from the Good Spirits Co. All proceeds will be generously donated to MacMillan Cancer support, so it should be a great night for a wonderful cause.

Lastly, to get into the spirit of Halloween, L Mulligan will host their Spooky tasting on Friday, with whiskies such as Auchentoshan Blood Oak and Wolfburn Movren, as well as a sample of Mozart Pumpkin Spice Liqueur. With these tastings, and a few others happening next week, be wary of the Halloween spirits (terrible, I know!).

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Image by Daniel Norris

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