Whiskey Socks, Land in Scotland, and other Free Whiskey Club Perks
Posted on June 26 2020
If you love good whiskey as much as I do some simple pleasures are hard to beat.
- Sitting down with a whiskey flight tray of your favorite drams to share with your friends.
- Finding a bottle of Weller's 12 or Blanton's priced at the Distillers MSRP.
- Going to your mailbox to find a pair of free Bourbon Socks with a nice note from one of your favorite distillers...
Yup, that's right a pair of free bourbon socks! Maker's Mark bourbon socks to be exact. So why would such a popular distiller be handing out free socks? Well, I signed up as an Ambassador #639069 in 2010 and this past Holiday Season I walked out to my mailbox to be greeted by my annual gift from the fine folks from Loretto, Kentucky. And Maker’s Mark is just one of many distilleries with whom you can have this arrangement.
I recently reached out to High West Distillery about why create such a whiskey club and Associate Marketing Manager, Mark Erickson, had this to say:
“Our goal and objective with High West Whiskey Club is to give our members another chance to connect with High West. We are fortunate to have a passionate group of customers who are eager not only to learn more about our approach to making whiskey but also to continue their whiskey education in general. We’ve always believed that education leads to appreciation and the High West Whiskey Club is one extension of that idea. “
These programs do not ask much for you to join. You do not have to slice your hand to make a blood pact or to forsake all other brands. While some require a modest introductory fee, most simply ask that you be at least 21 years old, and provide them with an email address.
While not all memberships come with an annual gift, at the very least joining a brand’s club will get you insider information. Some clubs like Wild Turkey’s Rare Breed Society do not include physical gifts, they instead give their members access to exclusive, new product announcements and special offers.
Sometimes being a member pays double if you visit them in person. Always check to see if a distillery has an ambassador program before touring as, a lot of times you can get a free tour, special access to a special area (like Glenlivet’s Guardian library), or even some free whiskey swag. I’ve gone to the trouble of compiling many of these whiskey clubs so you can simply join and reap the benefits. If you know of more, make sure you drop them in the comments!
Maker’s Mark - Maker’s Mark Ambassador
This is probably the most popular and well known of all Whiskey Clubs and Ambassador programs. Started in 2001, they welcome thousands upon thousands of new Ambassadors every year to spread the good word about their line of bourbons. Every fan of Maker’s Mark that has been smart enough to sign up eagerly awaits their yearly Christmas gift such as a scarf or sweater for their bottle. In addition to the coveted swag, ambassadors also get advanced notice of product releases, and their name placed on an actual bourbon barrel!
My barrel #800849
Join Here - https://www.makersmark.com/ambassadors
High West Distillery - High West Whiskey Club
Not just anyone can join High West’s Whiskey Club. First, you need to be able to pass a 9 question multiple-choice test! Trust me though you shouldn’t have much trouble (and remember that a Jackalope is just a jackrabbit and antelope combined into one fierce beast).
Some of the swag I have received includes a fantastic pocket-sized Field Notes notebook, stickers, and best of all a really cool campfire coffee mug (which holds coffee and whiskey equally well). Not to mention I am very excited about skiing into their whiskey saloon/distillery in Park City, Utah someday.
Join Here -
Four Roses - Mellow Moments Club
I’ve never been lucky enough to join but Joe was Mellow Enough
Unlike the first two whiskey clubs that are always open to membership, the Four Roses Mellow Moments Club has limited capacity. Those that are “Mellow Enough” receive their membership card and a sweet lapel pin. Other gifts have been barware such as coasters, a jigger, and a muddler for making a Four Roses Old Fashion. While you’re waiting, you can still sign up for exclusive communication and updates from them!
Join Here - or at least attempt to.
Jefferson's Ambassador Club - The Alchemist
Jefferson’s always done things a bit different, such as sending their bourbon on ocean cruises around the world. They are no different with their The Alchemist ambassador club. Instead of going through their website, they have a private Facebook group you can join. Just like their page, leave a review, be engaged, and you are in for benefits such as early news on new releases, contests, release dates, and some member swag. Also, like a lot of other programs you get free distillery tours.
Join Here -
Johnnie Walker - Mark Life's Finest Moments & Personalized Labels
“At Johnnie Walker, we believe that the big moments in life are never really just about one moment. We’re offering you a complimentary pen so you can mark all of life’s special moments on your bottle. Whether it’s when you say, “I do” to the one you love, the first day at a dream job, or finding out that you’re going to be a parent, we’ll help you celebrate these Blue Moments along the way. How it works - Pour a glass and mark your Blue Moment on the bottle. “
That’s the brand intro to one of the more unique whisky clubs you can join. By giving Johnnie Walker permission to contact you about promotions, updates, and product releases, you can get a limited edition gold marker that can be used to mark what the drams from a bottle were used to celebrate.
In addition to that, you can order a customized label through their website to affix to a bottle of JW that you intend to celebrate with or use as a gift.
Woodford Reserve - Personalized Labels
Another distillery that offers personalized labels is Woodford Reserve. If a personalized bottle of Woodford is a gift that you’d enjoy giving, then the updates and promotions that come with requesting the label are just icing on the cake!
Elijah Craig Small Batch Bottle Label
Elijah Craig offers personalized labels during special times of the year. The best way to know when to get yours is to sign up for their newsletter. Also you will get the scoop on all things Heaven Hill and Elijah Craig, including some great history and insight on their production.
Glenlivet - Label Maker
What’s unique about the labels that you can create through Glenlivet is that they are designed to be placed over the label that’s currently on the bottle, rather than simply placed somewhere inconspicuous. The website is super-easy to use; you just let them know what bottle you plan on gifting, and they guide you through a step-by-step process to create the label that will then get shipped to you.
I can hear you now, “Alright, Jeremy - I get it. Here’s the thing, though - my bar is already fully stocked and I’m really more about the experiences that being a member of these distilleries might afford me. Where else can I get treated like a rockstar?” Well in addition to all of the distilleries above offering special perks at their tours for members, I’ve found some great, one-of-a-kind experiences that can only be accessed by members of various distilleries around the world!
Laphroaig - Friends of Laphroaig
The most novel and interesting whisky giveaway includes becoming a “whisky landlord” on a 1 ft square plot of peat in Scotland. If you are a fan of Laphroaig, why not take your relationship to the next level and become a “Friend of Laphroaig”? Joining this club does require a proof-of-purchase from the little booklet hanging around the neck of a bottle you’ve enjoyed, but membership includes opportunities to buy special bottles or attend special events (if you find yourself overseas), discounts in their online shop and - here’s the kicker - a 1 square foot plot of land in their peat fields! If Laphroaig tickles your palette, that’s like owning one of Hershey’s cocoa plants!
Purchase a Bottle to Find Instructions to Join
Glenlivet - Guardian of Glenlivet
Now, this is the kind of library where I can see myself spending a whole day.
Becoming a ‘Guardian’ at Glenlivet gets you the standard early access to events, updates, and promotions, but also allows you to purchase rare bottles (if you can pick them up across the pond). In addition to this though, there is a special room at their distillery reserved only for their most loyal fans and supporters. So after you sign up, and after your tour, make sure you ask for the Guardian’s Library so that you can finally say, “spending that afternoon in the library was just what I needed” and mean it.
Join Here -
The links above are some of the more unique distillery offerings, but most distilleries have opportunities for you to be more “in the know,” and some of these come with different levels of perks either online or in person. This could be anything from free tours, to discounted swag, or special access to products and on-sight events. If you’ve never visited the website of your favorite distillery because you think you know everything there is to know - it might be time for a visit!
Whiskey Beer 2020
Ok ok, so this may not be a whiskey club per se, but who wouldn't want to join the party of Whiskey and Beer!
Did I miss your Favorite Whiskey Club?
Is there a brand that you are a big fan of that you think we should share? Do you represent a brand that as a club and an interesting story behind it? Please let me know by contacting us here.
So go join a few of these clubs that speak to you. I do ask not to go and join everyone you find just for free stuff. That is not cool and how something like this gets ruined for the rest of us. Meanwhile, enjoy your favorite pour and toast to the hard-working distillers that make life just a bit sweeter for us!
Southern Drinking Club Member #1