The City of Angels may be known for the film industry and sunny weather, but it’s also home to a group of dedicated whisky lovers who get together to taste drams and enhance their spirits knowledge. The Los Angeles Whisky Club started with a simple idea—enjoying whisky with friends. “I am a big fan of whisky and I love sharing it with a few friends, but I generally was buying more whisky than I was drinking,” says club founder Beks Opperman. “I really enjoy finding those special bottles and hearing the stories about them. I started the club because I wanted to be able to share, as my cupboards were getting full and it was time to drink more of it.”
Founded in 2019, the club started out with 15 members. It has since grown to 36—an increase that Opperman attributes partly to the pandemic. “There was definitely a core group that came to every single tasting during the pandemic,” she says, adding that they gained five or six members outside of the Los Angeles area during that time, while tastings were held virtually.
When it comes to the discussions that follow the tastings, “We’re a very interactive group, and we try to encourage everybody to be interactive,” Opperman says. “One of the club’s only rules is ‘don’t be snobby.’ You can be opinionated and passionate, but don’t ever put anybody down for having a different opinion than you. We’re about 50/50 men and women. I think that also makes our club unique. A lot of clubs are majority male.” She adds that they usually meet once a month to taste six whiskies, though occasionally they’ll add a second tasting to feature a different spirit, such as mezcal or gin.
An important tenet of the club is that everything is tasted blind, Opperman says. “We taste blind so that we can have a really honest perspective on what we actually like.” Once they’ve finished the blind tasting, they reveal what the whiskies are, and the club members then taste them a second time.
As the club’s founder, Opperman takes the lead in procuring whiskies for members to taste. “Mostly, I’m still doing all the buying,” she says. “I generally travel quite a bit. I bring back whiskies from traveling all around the world—Japan to the UK and other places—and then a little bit of hunting online. Sometimes you buy things at auction, sometimes other club members will bring in bottles they’ve bought while traveling, and we work them into the tasting.” She adds that the club also works with some local liquor stores to lead tastings.
The Los Angeles Whisky Club also gathers about every other month for “Clubhouse Nights,” Opperman says, when “members can order pours from any open bottles at our Club Bar, and the bottles available vary depending on what we have left over from previous tastings. Members are permitted to bring up to three non-member guests with them to a Clubhouse Night.” These gatherings took place prior to the pandemic, but Opperman adds that at press time the club was getting ready to host its first post-pandemic Clubhouse Night for vaccinated members. “It’s fun because there’s a lot of memories like, ‘Oh, I remember this one from that tasting and I loved it’ or ‘I missed this tasting. I’m so happy I got to try it.’”
Club Insider: Los Angeles Whiskey Club
Location: Los Angeles
Year founded: 2019
Number of members: 36
Membership: Join via the club website