The L.A. Whiskey Society: Not Just Your Average Whiskey Lovers

By Lindsay Brandon / April 26, 2016

Down in Los Angeles, there are a group of people who are much more passionate about whisk(e)y then most average consumers. And we do mean much more.

Inspired by his new home’s elaborate bar back in 2006, this group’s founder, Adam Herz, decided it would be the perfect opportunity to gather with some likeminded fans of single malts. A casual gentlemen’s club of sorts, everybody could pitch in for an ultra-premium bottle of scotch (then around $500). There was born one of the most respected (even if accidental) authorities on whiskey: The L.A. Whiskey Society (or LAWS).

Not four years later, LAWS has a very visible, fully developed website. Though the bottles they rate highly are much harder to come by these days, the group has maintained its casual and intimate character: Herz had to cap the group at 30 people because, simply, it doesn’t make sense to split a nice bottle of whisk(e)y with any more than that.

L.A. Whiskey Society

This is one very serious whiskey club. (image via L.A. Whiskey Society)

The group, with an extensive wait list of membership request, meets around once a month to share drinks and conversation. At any given meeting, they’ll open 5-10 bottles (usually incorporating a theme) and invariably nerd-out on the tasting. Once they taste through their newly-opened bottles, they hit “The Reserves,” a vast collection amassed from past meetings and member donations.

Another distinct attribute of LAWS is their commitment to independence and honesty about their reviews. No one is sending them complimentary bottles or advertising on their website, but Herz says that’s just fine, LAWS would rather write honest reviews and impressions of the spirits they taste. Several of the founding members remain in the club.

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So what are Herz’s go-to drams? Though he admits to having more whiskey than he could ever consume, two at the moment include the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric, a very reasonably-priced Kentucky Straight Bourbon aged 20 years, and the Glenfarclas 1972 Family Cask.

Not especially well-versed in the L.A. spirit scene myself, I asked Herz if there were any bars or whiskey events that were LAWS-approved (seeing as how none of us are making it off the waitlist and into his private bar anytime soon). He said that Seven Grand in Downtown has a great selection, and has a whiskey society that offers tastings to the public every month. The Daily Pint is also a revered bar for its selection and refreshingly no-frills ambiance, and the Thirsty Crow has a fantastic cocktail program. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society will hold a Whiksy Extravaganza in November, the Southern California Whiskey Club (born from LAWS members) offers several events for the public, including education for the beginner drinker without the beginner malts, and the Los Angeles Scotch Club (also run by a LAWS member) hosts events for the public as well.

Not to be mistaken as ‘snooty’ or exclusive, Herz’s LAWS finds itself having to waitlist member-hopefuls for a reason: it is a whiskey society built for the enjoyment and community that whiskey brings, not for gloating and boasting.

Herz, for example, fields questions frequently about how somebody could go about creating a group like his. As if the answer could be any simpler than “get together and drink whiskey.”