W Club Whisky Ballots and Priority Access

Casting lots and random ballots is a tradition that stretches back beyond written history. Much like our relationship with alcohol. It is believed that humans were seeking out and consuming alcohol before we were even fully evolved as homo sapiens, and we were drawing lots to make decisions and distribute goods for almost as long.

There is a strain of scholarship that explores the interrelationship between the first emergence of agriculture and the production of alcohol (and other mood-altering products) in Neolithic society. Across all our ancient texts, from Hellenic poems, through The Bible and our oldest surviving Germanic and Old English epics, we find near constant references to alcoholic references: "Well, friend Unferth, you have had your say about Breca and me. But it was mostly beer that was doing the talking..." - Beowulf

Similarly - while Noah may have wasted little time after the flood in planting a vineyard, and getting drunk - Moses, under instruction from his god, divided the land west of the River Jordan by the drawing of lots. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used raffles and ballots in a number of ways, from the distributing of goods to the raising of funds, to simply playing games - and beyond.

For the ancient Athenians, selection by lottery was then the principal way of achieving fairness. For this famous Greek city-state, sortition, not elections, were the most democratic practice, as it prevented the use of corrupt methods to buy one's way into office, blunting the ambitions of would-be oligarchs. Like many great enlightenment thinkers and scholars before us, the team at the W Club made the decision last year to deploy random ballots as the fairest way to put our most in-demand whiskies to our members.

We still use our Priority Access system - which gives an exclusive period of access to our members - to release bottles to W Clubbers before anyone else gets the chance to purchase, and we will continue to do so. However, within our list of bottles that would traditionally go to members on Priority Access, we have a number that are extremely limited in allocation, and so sought-after that they would sell out in a matter of minutes after going live to W Club members. As a result of your feedback regarding the annoyance of some of our Priority Access releases selling out much too fast - as a result of both the high demand on specific releases and the growth in our W Club membership numbers - last June, we unveiled the first of our new W Club ballots with the launch of The Macallan Disitl Your World New York. Finally bringing together these two great traditions of alcohol consumption and randomised ballots.

Since then, we have sold over 1,000 bottles of some of the world's most wanted whiskies to W Club members via about 60 separate ballots. And we will continue to hold these on a weekly basis as the fairest way to deliver bottles to our valued W Club members.

The Inaugural W Club Awards

Since the start of 2023, we've been quietly getting ready to launch the first-ever W Club awards. All the brand entries are in and now, over the coming weeks, our W Club members will be deciding which is their favourite whisk(e)y of the year across a selection of different categories. The winners will be decided in a series of blind tastings conducted in TWS locations throughout the UK. Meaning our W Clubbers-slash-judges deciding will not be swayed by any branding or preconceptions they might have about a specific producer or release but will decide based purely on the quality of the liquid they will try, judged to a specific set of criteria.

If you're interested in taking part in one of our judging sessions, make sure your membership is up-to-date and see that you are keeping an eye on the events being run in your local branch of The Whisky Shop. You can do this via your W Club emails, our W Club Events, or via our new Discussion Feed on the W Club Members hub. There will be some other exciting announcements coming from the W Club over the coming weeks and months. Keep a lookout and keep on Clubbing.

The original feature is from the Summer 2023 edition of Whiskeria, delivered to the door of W Club subscribers and also free with any Whisky Shop purchase in-store or online.