I was never a Boy Scout growing up. As an adult I have not been tempted to become an Elk, Moose or Mason. The Shriners do great work, but what's with those hats? And I'm not the kind of guy to join a country club. All that said, there is a private membership organization in Scotland that might just change my attitude about clubs.
Not far from St. Andrews, the Ladybank Company of Distillers Club is using $1.9 million raised by selling memberships to a network of whisky enthusiasts from 30 countries throughout the world to start construction of a new distillery. James Thomson, a whisky fan and web design entrepreneur, is heading the project with the goal of creating a distillery with a production capacity of 35,000 litres.
Thomson, operator of a whisky distilling school for connoisseurs at Bladnoch in Dumfries and Galloway, says the whisky industry's distilling and production practices are dominated by large corporations and his plan is to introduce more creativity to the Scotch market. Members of the Distillers Club will have input on production decisions such as length of aging and type of casks that will be used.
Distillers Club memberships are being limited to 1,250 participants. Members will receive six bottles of whisky per year for the next 30 years. The first 300 charter members paid $6,185 to become part of the Distillers Club. Thomson plans to sell the additional memberships at a slightly higher rate and assess a subscription fee.
In addition to making whisky, the plan is for Ladybank to make gin and other spirits, plus offer facilities for teaching visitors how to make distilled spirits. Thomson says the company has a 50-year lease on the property.