You’ve recently discovered an interest for whisky but your budget is far from unlimited (let’s be honest, you still have to pay this extortionately-high monthly gym membership even if it’s been 6 months you haven’t worn your jog pants elsewhere than on your couch binge-watching Netflix), so how to keep discovering new expressions and enhance your malted knowledge whitout breaking the bank? Don’t freak out, I’m your whisky fairy today and – once again – I’m here to help 😀
Join a Whisky Club
There’s probably a bunch of people near you with the same passion for whisky, ask around for a local whisky club contact or check Google & Facebook to find out. Can’t find any trace of a whisky club nearby? Create your own with some friends. Whisky Clubs have two main advantages: sharing your passion with like-minded people (I’ve always thought whisky was meant to be enjoyed in great company…) and dividing the price of the bottles! There’s no best way to improve your whisky knowledge than meeting and discussing your experience with other people, so don’t be shy and join the club!
Extra Tip: you know how official limited bottlings can be expensive… Did you know the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (around 30 000 members worldwide) was releasing around 15/20 single cask expressions under their name every month? That’s also a great way to put your hands on tasty nectars that would have been released for twice the price as distillery’s official bottlings...
That’s pretty obvious: if you diminish the quantity you purchase, you’ll of course diminish the price as well. Basic mathematics. You can either subscribe to a monthly whisky box or make your own selection on online whisky shops that offer samples. There’s no best choice for me than Master of Malts when it comes to samples. Basically, almost every expression they sell can be purchased as a 3cl sample and you can even create your personalised 5-samples tasting set, how cool!
Do not despise NAS or supermarket whiskies…
…and always be on the lookout for discounts! If you just started your whisky discovery journey, there’s still certainly many things on your supermarket shelves you haven’t tasted yet. And despite what you may think, some (many) references you’ll find in supermarkets have nothing to be ashamed of. No need to buy those 1498798-year-old Macallans at auctions for the moment, why don’t you simply enjoy a Macallan Amber, a Talisker Storm or an Highland Park 12? Those are easy to find, pretty tasty and you may even get a discount when checking-out…
Swap samples with other malt maniacs
Websites such as whiskybase and Whisky collectors Facebook groups are a real goldmine for whisky enthusiasts. Maybe the best way to enjoy whisky without breaking the bank is to keep your wallet closed? How can that magic happen I hear you say, free whisky, is that really a thing?! No, it’s not. Whisky is definitely not free (apart at your birthday/Christmas or when you got those promotional Jack Daniel’s Honey shots in this multi-storey nightclub in Ibiza) but there are some people out there exactly like you, willing to discover the joys of the amber nectar, without having to put a mortgage on their house.
Extra Tip: First things first, create a quick Excel file compiling all your open bottles and share with the group so that if someone is interested by a sample of one of your bottles, he can get in touch and provide you with his list… Of course, you won’t swap a sample of Laphroaig 10 for a Brora 35, keep that in mind 😉
Don’t stick to big shiny names such as Macallan and explore unknown territory
I couldn’t stress this enough: we’re lucky enough to be experiencing a new whisky golden age – and this trend is not limited to the Scottish/Irish/Japanese/American border: expand your malted horizon and go check those smaller less-famous names, you could find some incredibly tasty gems for half the price of a bottle from one of the big guys. 😉
Become VERY good friend with your local spirits shop owner
Those “before-you-buy” tasting sessions are a great way to discover many drams, especially if you’re not sure what to buy (or even if you have an idea but just want to make the most out of your purchase ;)). Don’t forget to buy a bottle from time to time though if you want to keep this friendship working 😉
Attend Whisky Festivals & Events
I can’t think of any best way to explore whiskies from all horizons, under the same roof. Tickets to festival sessions may cost around £50/£60 it’s more than good value for money if you can handle alcohol 😉
Extra Tip: If you want to discover older/more uncommon expressions, festivals such as Whisky Live Paris offer a VIP pass (which is obviously more expensive) which gives you access to a dream-dram area where you’ll have the occasion to make your way through exclusive drams without selling the virginity of your sister-in-law on Ebay 😀
Cover Pic: Tripadvisor