August 29, 2022
Dear SWC Members,
We hope you’ve enjoyed a great summer and, for those that were able to make it, a fun weekend at SWC’s recent Summer Festival!
SWC is now 5 years old and has evolved tremendously since its formation in 2017. While the club continues to maintain a solid local presence for those living in and around Southport, with regular in-person events back to being a feature post-COVID, the club’s reach has been significantly expanded nationally and internationally through the pandemic. Virtual tastings offered existing members a chance to continue to catch up while prevented from doing so in person, while many others were able to join the community and become members, making new friends along the way. Having built this community, we are really keen – and excited – to offer everyone a club membership experience that they can engage with and draw great value from, whether it’s accessing fabulous whiskies, enjoying socialising, or (hopefully) both!
One of SWC’s unique features is the Club shop, which enables members to benefit from discounts on bottles that SWC sources and access many hard-to-get whiskies at competitive prices. This is, in significant part, because the shop represents an attractive way for distillers to reach whisky enthusiasts, and has contributed to the 35+ SWC exclusives that have been launched in the last 2 years or so (and there are plenty more to come!).
To ensure SWC keeps the distillers happy, it doesn’t sell below RRP but instead offers membership discounts on bottles. The difference between wholesale price and that discounted price is value that belongs to the Club, and not any individual. While Victor, as founder of the club, has historically very largely funded the working capital needed to build up the Club shop, he has not taken, and does not take, any return from doing so. As a result, the Club has built up substantial funds, very largely in the form of stock held in The Mash, a space created specifically for SWC (for use at festivals; regular dramming nights; to be rented out for gatherings with monies benefiting SWC).
We continue to make progress in creating a fully transparent, well-governed, and financially independent Club that all members can understand and ask questions of – you will have seen both the Club Charter and formation of DramCo initiated this year as examples of this drive. While not yet the finished article, we aim to have largely completed this process within the next few months so we can provide more detail by early 2023.
Membership Renewal Structure for 2022-23
In the meantime, and with particular focus on both this 5-year milestone and the wider challenges around the higher cost of living everyone is experiencing, we are proposing renewal at a lower price point than last year – £45 to be precise. In addition, we want all members to have further opportunity to benefit from the funds built up in SWC – generated through your participation and Club shop purchases! – by offering a special renewal-linked discount on a bottle of your choice from a selected range of SWC exclusives (see below).
We are also taking the opportunity to align the membership renewal year, which involves a little more work on a one-time basis (please bear with us!), but will significantly reduce admin going forward and also generate a regular annual cash sum for SWC that, together with cash generated from ongoing sales, gives us chance to do even more to bring new and interesting bottles to your senses!
The new membership year will commence on 1st September for all existing members. For those whose membership has very recently expired (I.e. during August), renewal will simply be at the lower price. For those that have renewed at other times, we will pro-rata your membership months (up to 31st August) at the previous membership price and then calculate your “credit” towards renewal at the new price level. For a limited number of people, there may still be some credit owed after settling the new membership year – where that’s the case, this will be available as a discount off your next Club shop purchase.
We will write to each member shortly with the specifics of their renewal – credit (where owed), renewal cost, etc. so no-one has to fathom it out themselves!
While the new membership year starts imminently, we realise that asking for renewal subs immediately is inappropriate, so we plan to give everyone the month of September to renew, which should provide time for members to make their arrangements. If, for whatever reason, you do require a little more time, please get in contact with one of the DramCo members and we will be pleased to consider your request.
Special Renewal Discounts on SWC Exclusive Bottles
SWC is offering members renewing during the month of September 2022 a 30% discount on one of the following SWC exclusive bottles:
Catoctin Creek Rye – Barrel Pick #2415A – Madeira finish – 58.4% – RRP £95 – reduced to £67
Catoctin Creek Rye – Barrel Pick #2177A – Rum finish – 60.0% – RRP £95 – reduced to £67
Catoctin Creek Rye – Barrel Pick #2414A – Zinfandel finish – 59.5% – RRP £95 – reduced to £67
Glenfarclas 7yo 100 proof – 57.1% – RRP £56 – reduced to £39
Glenfarclas 9yo – 48.8% – RRP £49 – reduced to £34
Inchmurrin Botanic Road – Manzanilla cask finish – 46% – RRP £46 – reduced to £32
Inchmurrin Marine Drive – Manzanilla cask finish – 46% – RRP £46 – reduced to £32
Inchmurrin Oakwood Avenue – Manzanilla cask finish – 46% – RRP £46 – reduced to £32
Loch Lomond Cask #730 – Peated Single Grain – 61.3% – RRP £46 – reduced to £32
You can choose to claim your bottle discount at the same time as you renew, or at any other time (after membership renewal) during September.
SWC Plans in the Pipeline!
As you consider your renewal, we thought you might welcome a glimpse into some of the activity going on to bring exciting new whiskies to members over the coming months!
Among other projects ongoing, we are working to bring the following to fruition:
- Ardnamurchan Single Cask – bottled, labeled…and running a bit late! Will be with us shortly…..
- Glenfarclas Single Cask – a SWC favorite, this will be our 7th collaboration with the GF team
- Bimber Single Cask – again, a distillery that we have collaborated with multiple times, and always popular with SWC members, we’re working with Dariusz and team on another release for your enjoyment
- Milk and Honey exclusive bottling – with friend of SWC, Shilton Almeida, having joined M&H early this year, and delivered very well-received masterclasses at the last 2 SWC festivals, we’re looking to secure a special M&H dram
- Voodoo exclusive bottling – we’re working with another friend of SWC, Paul Dempsey, on an interesting Voodoo bottling, following Paul’s participation in this month’s SWC Summer Festival
- More “Man with the Hat” bottlings….watch this space!
- Bankhall Distillery visit/tour and exclusive bottling
- Welcoming the Adelphi team for an in-person tasting session in Southport
- Further ‘SWC On Tour’ sessions, in new locations and old!
- As ever, more Grand Drams, SWC Club Nights, virtual tastings and whatever else we – or you! – can think of that sounds fun!
We do hope that this renewal process is clear, transparent and attractive to you as a valued SWC member. We are really driven by what we believe members want to see, but that requires understanding and 2-way communication.
For our part, SWC plans to launch another survey in the coming 4-8 weeks to canvass members’ views on what they like, want to see more of, and would rather not see again! While this will be a great opportunity for members to express their views, there is no substitute for conversation – please do get in touch with any of the DramCo if you have constructive feedback for us on what you like or dislike so we can take this into account as we plan the next steps in the development of this fun gathering we call SWC!
The SWC DramCo