How should a successful bourbon club function? Are there annual dues that go towards hosted events or is it completely unstructured where all business takes place online? We invited the leaders of Louisville, Lexington, Dallas, and Houston bourbon societies to come on the show and talk about how they manage growth and keep participation levels high amongst their members.
- James “Buddy” Thompson – https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/louisville/obituary.aspx?n=james-thompson-buddy&pid=192232789&fhid=4753
- 2019 Eagle Rare Life Award – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAjPavE4hs
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about flasks.
- Joining us this week: Kristopher Hart (Houston Bourbon Society), Peter Schmidt (Dallas Bourbon Club), David Bock (The Louisville Bourbon Society), and Matt Preston (Lexington Bourbon Society)
- Tell us about the purpose of your Bourbon Society. (Events, philanthropy, bottle swapping, barrel picks, etc.)
- What are the differences between a traditional and non-traditional bourbon society format?
- What do your events look like? Who are you inviting?
- Are events completely bourbon focused? Or do you cross over with food, cigars, music, etc.?
- Is Texas half whiskey/half bourbon or all bourbon?
- What are the benefits when you pay to be part of a club?
- Do you feel like your club is more intimate than an online group?
- Walk us through one of your meetings.
- What do members get in return for their dues?
- How do you charge for events?
- Do your events have consistent participation or are there constantly new people?
- What challenges do you experience when hosting events?
- Is it redundant to have multiple local bourbon groups?
Like the amount of babysitting you have to do
on a Facebook group, I mean, God, I just, I’d rather just be your friend and give you whatever you want.
This is Episode 197. of bourbon pursuit. I’m one of your host Kendrick Coleman and let’s run through a little bit of the news. It is with a heavy heart that we announced the loss of a bourbon legend, James buddy Thompson. He was the former chairman of Glenmore distilleries, and was a previous guest back on episode 171. He passed away on April 5, for those that don’t remember, but he shared an incredible passion for bourbon, as well as a great connection to the military. He combined both of those to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to veteran charities, the his final reserve bottles, and those were all arranged, as you’d probably recall, that was the oldest bourbon to ever been bottled at around 40 to 45 years old at those two bottlings. I remember my first interaction with buddy, as we were discussing his 45 year old bourbon, I had to put my foot in my mouth because I got invited over there after saying some things on a roundtable recording. But we met in his office where he gave us the chance to record his story in it was shared on this podcast, he gave Ryan and I another glimpse and the rare opportunity to actually try this whiskey as well. Even even after all that, he’s still invited me to a small gathering with about six other people to decide what to do with his final barrels, because I remember him saying, This is it. This is the rest of them. And they were around 43 years old at the time. I remember being there and loving every second because we talked about finishing it with Sherry or port or honey to overcome some of those tannins, and but at the end of the day, it was decided to just leave it as is. And at this as far as I know, those bottles still have yet to be released. So who knows what that’s going to entail for the future. But he was as a genuine as they come any truly enjoy what he was doing. I’m happy I got a chance to meet him and share that drink in his office. Cheers, buddy. And may he rest in peace. You can read more about his obituary and buddy himself on our show notes. Now, you may remember some podcasts ago, we announced that you should go out and needed to vote for the eagle rare life award. Eagle rare has announced their 2019 life award recipient who’s going to be giving $50,000 to the charity of his or her choice. And it is going to Army veteran Brian Anderson. And he’s pushing this towards USA cares, a national nonprofit that is focused on assisting 911 veterans in their time of need. Anderson is a triple amputee having lost both his legs and his left Left hand from an IED attack during a second tour of duty in Iraq. We’re happy to have been a part of this prayer life Ward process. And thank you to all those that took the time to go and vote. There’s a good YouTube video and you can find that as well in our show notes. We also a purchase some new equipment this week. And that means we’re brewing up a small project here with inside of bourbon pursuit headquarters. Thank you, as always to our Patreon community who makes this possible when you invest in us were able to invest in new equipment and bring even more bourbon content to you. So stay tuned to find out more. Today’s show is gonna be a fun one. No matter where you live across the globe. There’s probably a bourbon society or a bourbon club you can join. And really we’re going to look at today of what are the pros and cons of doing things, say a traditional way using dues and memberships versus something that’s non traditional looking at online forums. So hopefully you can figure out how you align and, you know, if you want to learn more, you should probably go out and find some people and really formally societies or join one or see what’s inside of your area. Now let’s check out what Joe over a barrel bourbon has to say. And then we’ve got Fred Minnick
with above the jar.
Hi, this is Joe from Bell bourbon. every batch we produce has a distinct flavor profile. We take pride and blending and preserving spirits for the people who enjoy them the most. You find out more at barrel bourbon calm.
I’m Fred Minnick in this is above the charm. Every shirt, jacket pocket and purse should have the right one for special events. And everyone should be filled with the proper amount of whiskey for the right moment. I’m talking about flash. And I’m here to tell you that not all flash are created equal. I realized this about three months ago when I poured a draw out of a blade and bow press flask the contents for green. No doubt this was an inferior metal leaching into the whiskey. Needless to say, I didn’t drink this stuff. Long after I had another bad flask moment. I had this old tin flash sitting in the trunk of my car for most of the winter. I forgotten about it and then just hung around with books, t shirts, glassware, a random bottle of bourbon and a spare tire. Well, I opened it just before fixing a lower and it tasted like an aluminum can. After that moment, I went through my flask collection and got rid of all my similar class only keeping the sterling silver ones have which I hadn’t many. I’ve since had a much better experience with my class whiskey. But I’ve noticed one other thing of late. I don’t like higher proof ones from flask. Reason being if you’re drinking straight from the flash, the whiskey shoots like a dart on to one spot of your tongue and burns the shit out of that particular circumference. So from now on, I just pour the higher proof flask whiskey into my red solo cup for a proper plus set. Well, I’m out fishing. And that’s this week’s above the char. Hey, check out my new magazine bourbon Plus, it’s on newsstands. It has everybody’s favorite tour guide on the cover. Freddy Johnson. You can find it at Whole Foods Kroger liquor barn and wherever books are sold. Hit me up on Instagram or Twitter at Fred Minnick. That’s at Fred Minnick. Until next week. Cheers.
Welcome back to another episode of bourbon pursuit the official podcast of bourbon. Tonight, Ryan and I are talking about a pretty cool subject. Because this is something that everybody is familiar with, that doesn’t matter where you live inside of the United States are actually around the world because we had the British bourbon society on here at one point in a past podcast. So there are there are bourbon societies, no matter kind of where you where you go there. They’re everywhere. They’re in every city and every state. And tonight, we’re going to be looking at a little bit of Well, actually, it’s going to be a Kentucky vs. Texas showdown. So it can be really kind of cool to see this. So anyway, what we’re gonna do is we’re going to talk about first Kentucky vs. Texas, but also looking at what it looks like versus a traditional sort of society versus something that’s maybe non traditional, something that’s more event focused, rather than having all the Kentucky distillers in your backyard. So we’re going to kind of look at what it takes to really make something truly successful within this. So, Ryan, have you ever been to any of the bourbon society meetings around here and local?
No, I’m not invited, I guess.
If I’m understanding you always get one meeting free always get your your first. First ones free. Yeah, like your first taste of crack. That’s how it always goes,
I got you know, I’m, I this is all new to me. You know, we’ve been in some bourbon groups, but not as society. So I’m interested to see what the difference is, you know, between the two and kind of see what these guys do and offer. So I’m pretty excited to talk about this. Awesome. So
I’m going to go ahead and introduce everybody just real quick. And then I’m going to let everybody kind of get a little bit more embellished, where to start with our guests from Texas, who if we were recording in person, we would give them the furthest distance travel award. But since we’re doing this over Hangouts, it’s everybody’s fair on this one. So first, we’ve got Pete Schmidt Pete is part of the Dallas bourbon club. And we also have Christopher Hart, who is part of the Houston bourbon society. So fellows, welcome.
Thanks for having us.
So Pete, I’ll let you go first. Just tell a little bit about Dallas bourbon club. I mean, it’s in Dallas. It’s in DFW, it’s a huge footprint but kind of give it a little bit more information about the club in itself.
Yeah, so we are a organization that’s got three main focuses, bourbon and whiskey, networking and local causes. So we try to generate money for charities around town as best we can. We try to put people in touch with each other based on their backgrounds and what what they do and we’d like to get together for for bourbon and whiskey and cool events.
Sounds good. Chris. What about you? Or Christopher? Sorry, Chris.
Chris is not Sadie
my name is Christopher hard. I helped co admin the Houston bourbon society we are a group of just under 4200 members.
We were mostly Houston but we’ve got some other we kind of basically as long as you’re Houston adjacent we’re okay with you being a part of the group. There’s a lot of some South Dallas members some Austin members and of course we have a your very own Kenny Coleman and the group as well just just to interact with those and other societies and kind of share the love we’ve got a group out of Tampa that will a few of these groups will kind of send some of their pics, we do a lot of sharing. So the group all low, it’s pretty large. It’s It’s It’s mostly Houston focused.
I’m more of a lurker in there. And I always like to see you and Wade kind of go back and forth and then I’ll be a troll,
but like that’s bullshit, guys. Well, it’s a bit of a madhouse at times as you as you go, guys. And I know this episode will not air for a few months, but as you guys can see, from the bourbon exchange that the bourbon info exchange that when you get to a certain size, it definitely has its its Madhouse moments.
Absolutely. Alright, so let’s switch it back to home turf over here. So David, I’m gonna let you go first from the local bourbon society. And then we also have Matt Preston from the Lexington bourbon society. So David, I’ll let you go first.
Thank you for having me. So, the Louisville the bourbon society and little boys, the original. It’s one of the one of the very first chartered in 2006. So we’re very traditional primary focus group. We have several hundred members, with our three tiers being bourbon, number one, bourbon education, two, and philanthropy three. So ultimately, we’re all here for the same reason that we have a love of bourbon. So as we continue to grow, we grow by having events, localized events, where we teach members about bourbon, get them acclimated to bourbon, introduced to distillers, really what you think of as a traditional bourbon society,
we are about to launch our bourbon University, which will start us down a course where we can start training folks within our group and outside our group on how to better understand flavor profiles. How to understand, you know, things like nosing, and things, all these various ingredients to help to help enrich those that love bourbon,
you know, in a meaningful way.
And David’s also the president of the bourbon society here in Louisville, as well. So make sure we get to everybody’s titles, right.
It’s very important. And that’s that.
I mean, it’s it’s these mean, everybody always like you know, we all hate Ohio State at some point. So everybody’s like the Ohio State, right? But the bourbon society, right, so you gotta you gotta give them their their credit where credit’s due. Alright, so Matt, I’m gonna let you go ahead and wrap this up here.
Absolutely. Let me lead off by saying, we are not the Lexington bourbon society.
Just jokes, but we’re really not so so when we incorporated, we’re a 501 C, or a 501. c seven, which is a social club. And we do just that we use whiskey bourbon, the light to get together and raise money for local charities, regional charities and swap bottles, Chrome bottles, to a wide variety of things. And we you know, we’re a social group with our board is very much focused on keep it social, we’ve got we don’t even have 200 members. And that’s fine. You know, when we have our board meetings, and we say, okay, we’re almost to 200, let’s talk about it. Then. If we get to 300, then we talk about it, then my wife and I started this and we didn’t know what it would become. She needed a blind tasting for each other in 2007 port about five or six airplane bottles, and she took some notes and I took some notes. And then it’s kind of blossomed into this. So it’s been a lot of fun to be able to bring folks together with the Native Americans native spirit and raise money for charity. That’s about half of what we do. The other half is swap bottles, public service, you know, on our on our closed Facebook page or whatever. Hey, today, there’s this on the shelf and here and people go get it and then we swap and trade. We’ve got an advent calendar coming out in December been a lot of fun. We’ve done it a few years.
Take a bottle 24 one out samples. Everybody has a different bottle, you just donate it and then you got a calendar for the month of December to sip on something that you wouldn’t necessarily so that’s
absolutely. He says, you know, that I get that aren’t very good. Or if you had the Bad Santa wanted an aspirin.
got pretty good. We’ve got pretty good calendars I print out. I take the label and I put it on the day in October and we all meet together and trade out or one out sample bottles and then and then share some fun stuff. And I love that he has a lot of fun. It’s a
lot of we get the Christmas tree with fun little doors.
No, we don’t we have not. We’ve had people we’ve got members in Brisbane, Australia, several in Florida, Maryland, Virginia. So we’re, if you want to be a member because you want to have first dibs on our bill fixed and that’s great. You know, we’ve got a couple different levels of membership. Some are simply that where you know you don’t get a T shirt you don’t get acclaim Karen you don’t get all that stuff. But you say remember because you want to you want first dibs on a Russell’s big. That’s that’s a really good pic or whatever. But we’ve had people email us and say, How can I buy this epic calendar? We’re like, well, you really can’t because, you know, the logistics are a little bit tough. You know, go ahead and start your own whiskey society or bourbon society and then you’re good to go.
Or you just figure out a way to just sell on Amazon and you make a few extra bucks. Yeah,
that’s exactly right. But but we’re nonprofit and
work out keep it that way. I guess.
So it sounds like it’s so true. It’s a pretty it seems like there’s there’s three commonalities that come through here, at least to be successful, right? So there’s, there’s the love of bourbon, right? There’s just bourbon in general, there’s charity, but there’s also events and events I kind of want to hit on next because the way that you host or you do events has got to be different based on these parts of the regions of the country. And so I’m gonna let the guys from Kentucky first. So David, I just want you to kind of talk about what the events look like who you’re inviting. It’s sort of what’s the talk track is that you know, what’s it look like?
Alright, so generally when we any sort of events we do in our meetings, we try to bring somebody in naturally distillers, Master distillers typically, although we can have really anybody from from the industry be involved. Emily for the first 11 months, we’ve got master distillers come in will do tastings along with all the bottles that our members bring. Generally, there’s about 50 to 75 open bottles at our at our events. And really the point is, is to get get our members and our guests acclimated to something new. We’ve got Hartfield and company. And again, I know this is sort of a timing thing. But you know, we bring in we bring in some of the smaller distillers to give people a chance to try something different. And in addition to that, of course, we sample some of our own barrel pics. You know, many of our members bring some some pretty eccentric bottles. So typically, you know, our our events look exactly like, Hey, we have a social hour, we’ve got time to share, we incorporate this, this this component of teaching about a dusty little master distiller talking about their product, what makes them different. And then we sort of finish off with some some additional social time. So everything always include some sort of education piece, you know, an obscure bottle, new product line and new distillery, you know, a chance to really bring some folks sort of bring them front and center. A lot of these smaller distillers just haven’t had a chance to be seen or tasted, in many cases.
David, I guess another quick question for you is, what’s the when you have any have something that’s like a, say Brent from four roses? Or you can got David for from Indy Rolen, whoever it is? Right? Let’s, what’s what’s is there? Is there a difference in the turnout? Or is it usually pretty, pretty much the same of the attendance? That’s being driven?
You know, I can say that, by and large, we have we have a fairly strong core. That is really, you know, it’s really an attendance just about every meeting, you will see, you know, if we’ve got, let’s say, Marian Barnes from castle and key, or somebody that, you know, Jim Rutledge, who’s who’s working on his new distillery, if we’ve got any of those sort of guests, they have a tendency to spike, you know, guest attendance. See some faces we don’t see. But we generally have a strong core that attends every meeting.
Are you like, we haven’t seen you in five events. But now you come out, you know? that,
yes, that does happen.
You gotta get out of every once in a while. Alright, so I’m going to flip it over to the guys from Texas. And Pete, I kind of want you to come to talk about your AWS events first.
Yeah, I know they’re different than the ones that Kentucky
Well, there’s a couple of things going on in Texas. One is there’s a lot of small guys out there in Dallas, especially. And we’ve got a lot of people that just love trying something new education part. And then to meet the guy shake his hand and hear that brand story while you’re tasting it with them. It’s pretty cool. So we’ve got some local guys we’ve been able to meet with and, and had some good events with. The other part that we have is Texas is pretty hot. I don’t know if you guys know this capital of the world.
And so bourbon companies realize it’s a it’s a big market. And Dallas is is a big place to be. So there’s a lot of road shows those guys go on, they come out to Dallas, they find us or we find them and we get them out for drinks at a bar drinks at someone’s house. And we’ve been able to do that as well, whether that’s through networking through local liquor reps or good old fashioned LinkedIn cold calls, we’ve been able to connect to some some people and they want to come to Texas.
I mean, do you think that’s a pretty good strategy to? And are you trying to find people that are like in the Kentucky area to kind of come out and do this? Are they actually distillers they brand representatives that are in the area, like who’s the who’s the person that you’re really targeting here?
So we’ve we’ve had some success with some local managers of distilleries and big district distribution companies here in Dallas, and they’ve been able to work up the chain and Dallas is hot enough to get get the Harlan weeklies of the world to come to us.
That’s good. Yeah.
whitelist travel expenses to get the private jet out there from the Cowboys or something.
why everybody to any, I will gladly do your next event.
You hear you hear talk about spiking events. I mean, it’s like local guy pretty good. Harlan Wheatley, we’re packing the house. So
you know, we, we try to go after the names, you know, but there’s plenty of local guys here in Dallas as well.
Cool. So Chris, I want to kind of turn it over to you to and before we start talking about traditional versus non traditional, because I know that yours is a very non traditional kind of group, but kind of talk about the events that you all host first.
Yeah. So similar to Peter situation, what we do is we host events throughout the year, it’s kind of a, it all started in kind of a weird place. I started a whiskey festival here in Houston, just before the Houston bourbon society became a group. And we ended up merging together and I would promote the club at my events that are held around town. And the group grew from that. And then all of a sudden, I started adding all my distributor contacts all of my, the brand reps that I work with for the event to the group, and then it just became this massive entity. I mean, it’s grown organically, but it’s grown explosively. And our events are not I mean, I know there’s some difference between what you’re saying and and the Louisville events. But it’s essentially the same idea. You get together in a social aspects, sit down with the brand reps. You know, we’ve got something going on. Now. Fred knows here in Houston tonight doing a makers event, and I was supposed to go and cover that. But I’d rather be here with you guys,
y’all. Thank you.
You know, it’s,
it’s I’ve sat down with Fred before. I mean, it’s definitely an honor. And I’ll see him tomorrow. But
it’s it’s really, I know, we’re here tonight to talk about the differences between traditional and the new wave of Facebook, which is, let’s be honest, Facebook has changed what it means marketing wise for bourbon nationally, globally. And there are a lot more similarities, similarities, and I think there are differences. I think what everyone’s doing, I’m hearing a lot of the same thing. There’s a charity aspect, we do everything with the Warriors for freedom, which is a veterans charity. It everything’s, I think there were more similarities and there are differences. I have a lot of respect for the, the history and something like Louisville, you know, obviously Bourbons been around a long time. Houston was not seen as a viable market, Texas was not seeing it as an overall viable market for real craft spirits up until the last four or five years. And now it just seems to have changed completely between the Houston bourbon society. There are five or six Houston groups. There’s five or six Dallas groups. There are a few in Austin and Dallas, San Antonio and even one Bomani that’s just exploded and everyone’s doing barrel fix. Everyone’s doing events. It’s It’s such a fun time to be involved in any of the and and like I said, to beat it to death. I think there are more similarities. And there are differences between any of us.
So are all these events all bourbon focused? Or is there any like cross interests they like cigars or barbecue food music or something else that you know could attract? You know, somebody outside of bourbon?
Well, that’s a great question. Because actually the problem festivals have not thrived here. There have been plenty that have come and gone. But a lot of the brands to hate live music at these events,
which is different
because you guys just did bourbon and beyond which is a full blown thing. But every In my opinion, every city is at different stages and at the stage that Texas is which is a stage that I think deserves recognition. It’s at this stage the brand’s hate live music at these events because they want to be able to talk about their brands to guest and customers and when there’s music going on. You have to scream Your voice is hoarse and if you’re pouring for you know all day it’s not it’s not a viable thanks so we don’t do music at our events. Now. At my event specifically, we do mix it up I know that I know you guys are bourbon pursuit but the Houston bourbon society really could be called the Houston spirits society because as Kenny and I recently had a little bit of a Facebook debate on I think that bourbon as monumental as it is, is become such a expensive hobby for for special releases that a lot of people are branching out. So you see a lot of Armagnac being posted in the group. You see a lot of Scots being posted in the group I think people are.
It’s not always bourbon. The last event we did at poison girl was an event for the American Heart Association. And that was obviously bourbon focused. But you see a lot of lot of whiskey period.
So the other question that I want to ask and Peter can move it over to YouTube, because I’m sure that these Kentucky boys aren’t gonna mess with anything except bourbon at their events. Do Do you guys look at this as like half whiskey half bourbon societies like what do you all really bring into the table? Are you trying to promote bourbon as much as you can with inside your clubs and societies?
Were bourbon bourbon bourbon. In others, there’s guys out there like Christopher was saying, maybe maybe Bourbons get a little too expensive. You’re tired of paying 200 $300
for something you really want. So you try something else. But at our events, that is bourbon bourbon bourbon, when people bring something and it’s BYOB
and Chris, you know, kind of detail on to that because I know you said you’ve done your whiskey social. I mean, what’s Is there a good breakdown of whiskey versus bourbon next category?
Well, you know what’s fascinating when it comes to throwing these these big events so the whiskey social is now is currently which could change at any moment is currently the largest festival at in Texas.
bourbon brands at this point, especially brands acts as rack the brands that people go crazy for. They have such a small marketing budget for doing these events, because they don’t need to all whether antiques going to sell ego Where is going to sell. So getting them to come to these events, it’s not a common occurrence, because typically these events cost to be there. So
as a breakdown, traditionally speaking at any major festival anywhere other than livable, I would say or anywhere else it Kentucky I would say it’s usually a heavy lean on overall whiskey category with maybe a 30% bourbon category. But we really do have a massive bourbon following here in Houston, our event I would say probably was about half and half bourbon, and then rye whiskey and scotch and the other the other categories.
Cool. So the next thing I kind of want to hit on was what Chris had already kind of alluded to, was we’re going to kind of go and talk about a traditional approach, which is probably going to be both Louisville Lexington and probably Dallas as well, when you have this sort of you know, you have you pay for membership, you get access you you get this and this and this, versus Chris’s, which is this basically just massive online community forum where people can just come to get together. So
Matt, I’ll kind of leave it on here on you real quick. So when you’re when you’re paying and you’re accessing to be a part of a club, what are all the benefits that you’re necessarily getting out of it?
When when we
started up, our model was a little bit different. We look to local bourbon society and their sister club up in Cincinnati, kind of like how are they doing it? They’re meeting once a month, they do a lot of barrel pics. And and we decided what’s going to be the best way for us to make somebody feel like if they pay us dues of $100 a year, what are they going to get? And when what are they going to feel like that they’re going to want to renew again for the following year. So we do a lot of things. We started getting barrel pics going. But again, we’re not massive, you know, we’re 200 people. And we went to remember suggest events and and we have big Events, Small events, Master distillers crowing, bottles, all this kind of stuff. So we felt like the best thing we could do was three or four things a month, small things, big things. If you miss this one, then you get to maybe make that one because your schedule allows it. So we send out a survey monkey and that kind of thing each year and say, What do you like? What do you don’t? Like? What would you like to see? Obviously, we don’t say what would you like to go pick it up because that’s not reality. But but but but but you know, the the glass that I’m drinking out of this is, is again, you think I was plugging flame around class to do but we go couple times a year and rule at on West Market Street. And we set up a little little room upstairs, we’ve got whiskey, we got food, you pick a couple colors, you pick your design of your glass, and you get to make your own whiskey glass, which is really a lot of fun. So we try to do things that that that branch out and are always just in a room with a guest speaker. And it’s a little bit more interactive, and it can be 10 people or it can be 40 or 50 people. So I
So David, I’m gonna lean on you a little bit here. So do you do you look at this as having sort of a club that you not necessarily initiate into, right, but you apply to you, you’re a part of, do you see it being a little bit more intimate than saying a large Facebook group that you can just add yourself to?
Well, I do want to say first to to Christopher, because I would agree with what we’re here for one reason we have a love of bourbon. And whether its traditional, or whether it’s, it’s online, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy our spirit in both places. When it comes to, you know, sort of our meetings, you know, one could say I don’t, I don’t know if I would call them intimate. But what I would say is, is that we have a lot of people that get together that like to, to share ideas and and to enjoy you know, to enjoy bourbon together. And, you know, although our meetings tend to be a little bit larger, we still have plenty of time to sort of get together and and and really get with the people that you know we love and and share a spirit or something that we brought that was special
you know, but I can’t say it enough whether we’re a membership based or we’re a Facebook group really worried about enjoying something that’s incredible. And like you’ve You know, we’ve all talked about this is an American spirit and, and to enjoy in all these different ways. I love it. I love it and I encourage it and we want to be a part of all of it.
So David, can you walk me through like one of your meetings is there like rituals like we did this, this or this and that way
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The world’s biggest music and bourbon festivals even Vegas, September 20, 21st and 22nd at Highland festival grounds of the Kentucky had spoken Louisville with Foo Fighters.
Zac Brown band
Robert Plant and this insatiable spaceship Daryl Hall and john john programming cc Leon bridges and more complete lineup of musical artists and celebrity chefs wouldn’t be on.
So David, can you walk me through like one of your meetings is there like rituals like we did this, this or this and that way?
We bring up the goats
there’s there’s candles, there’s chanting, the,
like a fraternity initiation.
As President, do you have a robe?
I have I have requisition, but it’s not arrived. But you know, the funny thing is, you know, it started off that, you know, it’s, it’s after work and, and it’s getting earlier and earlier. You know, we have to get their hours earlier because people start arriving, bringing their bottles getting their favorite spot. So So traditionally, even though our meeting doesn’t typically start till 630, and really 630 is sort of the social hour, and we bring our speaker or master distiller in at seven. I mean, you folks start getting there, 535 o’clock, so they can start talking about their newest pics. So generally, the way it works is, is is folks will start getting there, they’ll they’ll, they’ll start sharing their bourbon, sharing their story sharing their barrel pics, and really work their way through until we get to really our master distiller or whoever we’ve got is our speaker for the evening.
In which, at that point, they’re going to start distributing whatever their product or whatever it is that they that they represent that evening. And so we sort of have a mix of a time to, to, to catch up with ends, we have a time to learn about new Bourbons and and and and new things in the bourbon industry. And then we sort of cap it off with you know, some some more time to sit and, and and discuss new things. All the while in the background course we you know, there’s food there, we’ve got all of our barrel pics there. And so it’s a very loose the only section of the meeting that’s that’s really that’s really sort of strict. This is when we give our attention to the to the speakers.
So Pete, there’s one question I kind of asked you before we turn it over a little bit. So what do what do you see your dues going to david had mentioned? food at the meetings and stuff like that? What are the do’s when people are paying it on a yearly basis? What are they? What are they really getting return for some of these?
Yeah, to echo what they said you got to make it worth it. So we we are always on the lookout for cool new Glenn, Karen’s cool new Sterling cut glass com products,
stickers, things like that, you know, shirts, we want to be able to provide our guys with gear that they can wear around town, they’ve already paid for stuff like that. So no need to double charge them, we want to, we want to make sure that they can show up an event and not have to worry about dinner, they can, you know, if they bring the wife to our Christmas party type of thing, we’ve got some white wine, gin and tonic, whatever for them. So we want to make sure that we can take care of as much as possible when we host an event. Sometimes that’s $300 $500
toward a bar tab, things like that.
Cool. So now let’s kind of turn it over to Chris for a little bit here because you know a lot of these these guys in these formal kind of societies, they they all have dues they pay them it goes towards the functions. However Christmas a little bit different because it’s a it’s a very large online community, however you still hold events, you’re still able to do this, are you looking to charge on a per person per ticket basis kind of kind of how does that work in on your end.
So it’s a bit there’s a lot of overlapping that happens I have my whiskey festival which is separate from the Houston bourbon society but we do a lot of stuff for the events or for the group locally in terms of events. But it’s usually you know, it takes two hours to get to from one side of Houston to the other. So we’ve got a weekly get together at a cigar lounge which doesn’t cost anything you just come bring cigars bring it a bottle share as we’re all familiar with that happens on the south side we’ve got guys up on the north side to get together so it’s more of like
I haven’t like i said before i have a tremendous amount of respect for these structured old school or more traditional ways of having a society
so let’s say there’s there’s this first thing wrote the first stone that was just
a Marble Arch way there
it’s it’s the coffee soggy know I have a lot of respect for the traditional forms
coffee shares because
this is a lot of work even as a non traditional side of this thing you know, I have a full time job in aviation, the my own show that I do locally, the festival and then this online group that requires a tremendous amount of maintenance. So I have a ton of respect for you guys that have this traditional format where you bring in dues and and and have to like generate a return on their investment it’s a it’s something that I I simply don’t have time for and there hasn’t really been a push for that locally. Now as far as the events for the group go what we do is we just simply asked that people pre pay for events so for instance if we do a dinner we we got the as I mentioned before we do we do
special events with brands and last Christmas we did an event we got the the actual public launch for Glenfiddich, IPA cask single malt and so we just I coordinate we we do a lot with bars and restaurants locally, all the big bourbon and whiskey bars in Houston. And I coordinate with my contacts there and we say okay, we’re going to do a dinner on this date, we we figure out a price that seems appropriate and then all that money. When people RSVP they pay and then it gets passed directly to the restaurant. No one makes any money on it. I don’t make any money on it. The group doesn’t have a treasury. It’s a straight pastor. So we get to invite new people we get to have that camaraderie we get to have those meetings and it and it doesn’t it’s not necessarily a fees driven. There’s a level of accountability to when you guys have that traditional structure that
it just it’s so much more work than then I think a lot of people don’t realize for for people like you, I feel like I’m insulting
almost gotten divorced over the fact that
Yeah, I mentioned I mentioned before, I’ve got a wife and four kids. And we have had the last two back to back and we use the midwife so I I delivered them
trying to like justify Hey, honey, can I play on my Facebook group a little bit? Well, it’s a it’s a These are my internet friends. Yeah. It’s it’s a difficult task to maintain. And if you’ve got an actual club with dues and and and then prerogative to generate a return it’s you guys deserve a pat on the back more than then I think many people don’t
realize, do you find it difficult to have a consistency and like people showing up to these events? Because like I feel like with the traditional society be like, are we have the same people come in, we get familiar with them versus your it’s kind of all right, this event seems appealing to me, maybe I’ll go to it. And then there’s kind of new faces all the time, and you never really get that like, consistent, I guess, feel up a group.
So that’s a that’s a phenomenal question. And this will be something that I’m going to go ahead and just say is different from the traditional format to to Now, one of the consistent feedback.
One of the more consistent feedback items that we receive from brands is that they don’t want to just be doing events with the same faces, they want to grow the brand. That’s the whole purpose and participating in these events. And sometimes, that’s the whole purpose in them paying for these events, even if they don’t pay me they’ve got a coordinate with the restaurant and bring the product in, in a certain way. And I hope no one in in the federal government’s listening. But everyone here
to ABC is watching Dallas bourbon clubs.
fan? So it’s okay.
Are you familiar with credit card swipes?
Like, like credit card, will it?
So it’s Yeah, so essentially, in order to approach a restaurant and say, Hey, we want to host an event with 50 people.
And I tell them, hey, listen, we’re just going to generate a menu and everything will go straight to you. The brand still has to bring in the product, the proper legal channels, and the brand doesn’t want to pay for their own product at a at a retail and did at a bar markup. So they normally work something out behind closed doors, it’s completely legal. But it’s in order to go through that hassle they’d like to see some new faces. So our events, I think that is the one thing that differentiates us from these these traditional styles is we have a there’s always room for more like we’re not trying to drive membership growth, it’s a natural organic growth. But with four 100 almost 4200 members in a city of this size, you are going to see some traditional faces people that you always see it a lot of these events, but you you’re going to see a constant turnover of new regular members. So even in H vs. every couple of months, there’s a new member that’s that’s dove headfirst and is commenting and posting and coming to every event and so you will see some of the same faces but there there is a growth there of new faces that you wouldn’t normally see in a traditional setting.
Well I would say on the traditional side you do see some organic growth you see some people like well I just decided to bring my buddy and then there’s a new face there and sure you know what it’s a friend of a friend so he’s cool with us stick around let’s let’s catch up let’s get to know you What do you like to drink?
Well in our organic growth speaking, you know when when the board got together and said Do we want to start to advertise and spend money on on training membership and and all of us came together and said no, let it grow organically. But there is no big push for growth growth, growth growth more and more more and more and you kind of know
a new member when you meet him.
Oh sure. Sure.
I think both of these are great arguments in crisper I love years of being able to say that especially because as you had mentioned a brand does want to come and they want to try to advertise the new faces all the time they they’ve got it they’ve got to grow their brand and that’s essentially why they are footing the bill but I guess that’s also the flip side of of the dudes that are actually paying for the build some of these places rather than the brand coming in and paying for it to him Am I incorrect and saying that somebody can work pretty well. So yeah, it depends on if so whether you’re a structured
a traditional way of having a bourbon club or you’re the new Facebook way if the events being held at least in Texas in a in a license location that brands still gonna have to pay for even if your members are paying dues. So the brand is still going to pay essentially the same amount it’s not going to matter either way. So for instance, when we did the Glenfiddich IPA launch, we also you don’t want to just have people pay 45 bucks to come have dinner and try one whiskey. So we paired it with an IPA beer so they can try to find the similarities we also brought into Glenfiddich, 26, it Glenfiddich, 21, to kind of really make people feel. So going back to proving a return on people’s investments, it is a lot more, I’m not going to say our jobs more difficult, but I’m saying we we have to try to prove a value to members who pay on a event basis as opposed to annual membership. So when when we do have a launch, and I asked people to pay a certain amount of money got to make sure that I really blow it out of the water for them. Otherwise, they don’t come back to the next one. It’s essentially that’s what an early about similarities. It’s the same problem. Just slightly tweaked, depending on if you’re a traditional or non traditional format. I think there’s so much more similarities between us and there are differences. It’s just a different way of going about the same goal.
And to go ahead, but
But yeah, when I want to say something, you know, Christopher, when we talk about sort of kind of how we mesh the two together, you know, I think it’s important. You know, one of the one of the things that really is, is, as I think about the Facebook groups, as I think about the traditional groups, I think it’s really important to point out that although we do have crossover, you know, we in some cases we meet sort of different audiences and are and I think we and I think that’s where we shine together is that we have the ability to push a brand, we love a product we love, and we can push it through all sorts of different ways. And I and I applaud the Facebook groups and and i will tell you, I don’t think it’s any less work. What you have to go through sure what we have to go through, it’s just different work.
Agreed. Agreed. Yeah, and I you know, Kenny may have hope for more.
I don’t want punches to be like virtually throwing your
Were a little bit.
I mean, we’re we are membership based. But we are also very much Facebook communication based. And we’ve got plenty of members that are on Facebook, and they’re like, we’ll make sure you email us so so that’s been an added component for us is to, to email everybody and Facebook at the same time and at the exact same moment. So that if I say that I’ve found a bottle of this, and it’s a retail, you know with it, whoever wants in and wants to buy it for this amount will randomize your name and whoever’s at the top gets to take it. So we’re a little bit of a hybrid on it and Enter. And when it when it comes to when it comes to big events and brand sponsorship. You know, we do something every right around July for I’m sorry, June 1 every year, which is when Kentucky’s birthday is and we’ve had at the past couple years when we call it the Commonwealth bash, and we get our distilleries to donate because it’s going to go to the Lexington history museum or whatever the charity is. So they the caterer or if we get the license will buy the product. And it on the back end, the distillery will pay for the wholesale portion of whatever was was was poor that night, and then that money goes to the charity. So so it’s kind of a hybrid way to bring it all together. With Yes, we’re going to brand promote you you’re going to have this space, you’re going to be able to put a table up, you can pour me pours, you can have a cocktail, whatever you want to have, you’re going to have your own booth space for one night situation. But we’re expecting you to be able to write the check back to the charity at the end of the event to reimburse for that. So that becomes part of the charitable portion. So that’s, that’s, that’s been a fun way to be able to kind of work around, we’re going to promote your brand, but we’re not going to have to spend a bunch of money but we still ask for $75 a member or or anybody it’s 70 it’s 60 bucks a member or 75 bucks for non members to come to this event. So members are still paying money, but it has to be worth it for them to pay that much money to come to an event like this where they’re going to have independent state company come in and do a barrel presentation. They’re going to have multiple things in one venue for one evening. But they know that those funds are going to go to the Lexington history museum or some other local chair so so they’re okay with paying dues as well as also paying per event
Yeah, I mean that sounds like an incredible system that you haven’t placed it you know I really would like to maybe we can chat off air but I know that you guys have some your laws there in Kentucky are so much I just thought I’d say so much better than the laws here in Texas. Being able to buy a bottle from a bar or you know, I mean just any number of things being able to buy old bottles it’s so much more we have to
buy another bottle of liquor on Sunday. Yeah, yeah.
We have to do so much more dancing around something as simple as that just recent here Yeah, reason I mean we’re still in the early 1900s in Texas so
12 so whatever
no idea I mean, we can true it is it is liquor run state run liquor stores that close at nine o’clock no big market change it sucks no Sunday
just imagine trying to bring stuff in we’ve we’ve bought a few brands and gotten them state distribution including me rolling in Lincoln Tata and just trying to jump through those hoops and trying to get brands to Texas so we can get more because we’re playing catch up. We’re perpetually playing catch up to Yeah, okay. And it’s it’s a bit unfair. So there’s automatically there’s been many times I want to a friend some of you guys after watching somebody got this.
of you man. It’s It’s incredible. Lobos got it going on.
connect us to some Kentucky lawyers or something.
So let’s go ahead because I want to start wrapping it up because we’ve we’ve for probably over or 45 minutes creeping on the hour here. I think I think the best way that we can we can all come together as people we should do a big society barrel pick together because it seems like that’s that is also a corner. It is a cornerstone of a society in general. Right.
As suggested Russell’s reserve, I’ve enjoyed a couple of those recently that have been incredible. Just incredible.
I think I think between as many people I mean, I know you guys are basically speaking for the collective of the Dallas bourbon club, the Houston bourbon society everything you guys are doing. Let’s convince Eddie Russell to fill 100 gallon barrel
is gonna be like
140 bottles like we’re gonna have to be able to make a we need more bottles and just one barrel,
Pig pork barrel or a big big
well, gentlemen, I guess we’re going to have to pick two or three maybe not
the pic or Russell Russell small batch plan because I know who has done a couple of them. You know, cork and bottle did that. A couple months ago. Maybe we can convince any wrestler three backs blend.
Or we just keep all the bottles for us six and we call today right?
very well, you know what these kind of numbers we could probably do an MRT Lee, I’m just saying.
If he’s ready to let us do that.
As long as somebody who’s got his direct line, we could make it happen. I gotta promise he lives
four blocks from it.
Even better, just go knock on his door after.
All right, so one last time I went to say, first off, thank you all for for coming on. This has been a fun conversation. But I also want to give you a last minute chance to sort of plug your society and club and where people can find you how they can join. So on and so forth. So Matt at Lexington, I’m gonna start with you.
Yeah, appreciate you all invited me to be here for tonight. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re a small group or a social group, we love to get together trade whiskey, whiskey, raise money for charity, like some bourbon society. com We’re definitely on Facebook, occasionally on Twitter, even less occasionally on Instagram. But
you know, we very much love brown water and how it can and can raise money for local, local and regional charity. So check us out.
We’ll see the good thing you can do with a traditional is that you can hire a social media chair, and then they take over Instagram.
Well, no good.
That’s why I’m still married because I have persuaded some of my board members to actually step the
David, I’ll let you go ahead and do that next.
All right, well, thank you for having me. It really enjoyed this conversation. It’s, it’s something I really really enjoy. Love the company Love, love everyone that’s involved. We can be found at www dot the bourbon society.org. I will say that that going forward, the face of of our society is going to change in many, many ways. Including sort of working with all these groups. You know how Houston and Dallas and Cincinnati and Frankfurt and Lexington on how together we can really, I mean, we’re really, really just a group of men and women that love bourbon. It together I see that that collectively, that we can help everyone love it more. And that’s really that’s really for us. It’s about it’s about pushing something and really it’s not really a cell. it’s it’s a it’s a love, and and I’m grateful to everyone involved all all the guest tonight. Really enjoyed the conversation. Love everything you’re doing and keep it up.
Cheers. All right, Pete.
Thanks for having me on the bourbon pursuit. This has been a little bit of a fanboy dream come true. I
hope we didn’t disappoint.
They say never meet your idols.
But you can find us at Dallas bourbon club calm bourbon, networking and charity. here and Big D. Ice.
And Christopher go ahead and round it out for us.
Yeah, well, I you know, I’m a little bit of a little Freud fan, but I want to kick them off
on the bourbon.
I’ll switch back.
I just want to say something real quick before I before I close, David, there’s something about you. I just want to take a minute to actually knowledge you I want to call you congressman David or Senator David you’ve got like this. You’ve got like this perfect spokes model of a bourbon club look to you and I definitely want to do more with with everyone here. This has been a tremendous honor. I definitely appreciate it you can join Houston bourbon society check it out on the Facebook group. If you guys are ever in town the Houston whiskey socials a great festival spirits we do it every will this will be April next year. And just thank you so much for having me on Kenny and Ryan.
Absolutely give also a plug for your your whiskey show as well. Oh, yeah.
I always forget I do a similar show us around spirits called whiskey neat. You can find it on iTunes Google Play Facebook, we put the video up. You can find it at my whiskey need calm people ask why my whiskey neat because I like my whiskey neat. So you can check it out there. It’s all all podcast platforms and it’s a similar thing next week. We have this week we have Emerald on we had Ashok choco Lingam. Speaking of difficult name.
Yeah, yeah. Let’s see. And next week we’ve got on Joe Heron from copper and kings. I know there’s a definitely a few Coplin King King fans.
He was here last week we had a phenomenal time. So definitely check it out. Whiskey me.
I’ll tell a little shout out to to it’s bourbon night. Couple members that that live here in Lexington and to a young
guy and gal
that do a great job doing some final with whiskey. It’s Carbonite on YouTube.
Good deal. Give all are together. There’s a shadow.
Rising Tide? I think.
Yeah, I think you guys have kind of set an anchor and I think you’re okay.
The official podcast of bourbon and all
that self proclaimed.
So again, I do want to say thank you guys very much for joining night. It was a very fun conversation. I’m sure that if we weren’t under a time crunch or anything like that, we probably talk for another hour just on
a nice ride.
I needed to ask questions. I just listened to you guys talk. It was awesome.
So quick stop on the record button. And let’s continue.
For sure. It just means that we have our cute ourselves up for round two here. Next time, we need to get together and talk about this. I think it’s it was it was really cool. Because there’s a lot of people out there that are getting into bourbon. And they are they’re curious, and they want to know more about it. And they want to figure out what to do. So I would say you know, also if you live in these areas, go check these guys as clubs out if you’re in Colorado, or if you’re an Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire, New York or wherever there is a bourbon society or a whiskey club or there is something around and it’s just it’s an opportunity for you to do exactly what these guys had mentioned, it’s an opportunity to go and network with people and drink good bourbon, drink other people’s good bourbon, also have the opportunity to go on other topics and and just essentially be a part of a greater community.
For sure. And yeah, and I think I mean, whether its traditional non traditional, I don’t even know what that means yet, but uh, you can definitely tell there’s passion and that’s what’s common between everybody loves bourbon and these societies represent that while we enjoy bourbon. It’s not just the whiskey it’s hanging out seeing those common people getting to know new people and having that common interest environment that’s what I love about it I think the society it’s really kind of elevate that you know, to an extent so
with conversations and for those listening who are not in Houston and want to join the Houston bourbon Sadie I’ll warn you now wait what it is a part of the group and I apologize
he’s been on the show before
I’m a huge
he’s our GT can be you know confident
Yes, he is. He knows everything. But then there’s also somebody that commented in the in the comments as well he said you know, we’ve got 600 members and our local Facebook group and two or three guys snatch up everything and now I can’t get three or four members leaving show up for a bottle shared.
So there and say that
there are there are some other things that will save that one for the next conversation we start talking about some of the flip sides of these things but again, fellas, I want to say thank you so much. You know if you guys also have social media handles, make sure you go and follow them on social medias and also make sure you follow bourbon pursuit on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you do like what you hear in will be part of this community, our community the bourbon pursuit community you can on that Yeah, I’m kidding. The bourbon pursuit society should be we claim that one now we’re at it to just community. We’re not high class. Not enough. Not enough. But you can go and support the show on Patreon pa te r eo and calm bourbon pursuit where we do a lot of things like these guys. Also do barrel pics. We’ve got a little community we all love bourbon ever. We haven’t done anything for charity. So maybe we should step it up and do something yesterday.
Let’s do it.
Takes for charity. So we can get together on that. And Ryan go ahead and wrap up the show for us.
Yeah, thanks, guys. great conversation, loved every bit of it and then to our audience. You know, just let us know if you want to hear about a topic or social Justin’s feedback, comments. We love hearing from you all. This is why we do it is for you. So let us know what you think. And we’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai