Home‎ > ‎

Society's By-Laws

To provide guidelines for the Society's governance and operation.  The Founding Members' have created and agreed upon the following By-Laws for our Society.

In a world full of associations, clubs, and societies devoted to all kinds of pursuits, interests, and causes, the Black Swamp Single Malt Sipping Society was established in June 2010 in Toledo, Ohio for the sole purpose of providing a regular and formalized venue for individuals who have a passion for single malts to gather together to share, enjoy, explore, enrich, and expand their knowledge and familiarity with the single malt whiskies of the world (and on rare occasions other fine spirits).  To that end, the Society meets regularly every two months at a member’s home or a designated public facility to conduct formal tastings of different single malts.  Through the Society, members gain the ability to try a far wider range of single malts than they would on their own and at a far lower cost.

Our Society’s Basic Goals

The basic goals of the Society are to:

1) learn about different single malts and their distilleries,

2) improve our ability to recognize and appreciate their differences in aromas and tastes, and

3) have a pleasant time in the process.

Our One and Only Iron Clad Rule

Drink, with moderation, care, and consideration.  Each person is responsible for his/her own behavior and is expected to abide by this rule.  We gather to learn about, sample, and enjoy the whiskies of Scotland not to become inebriated.  Each member agrees to absolve the host of each tasting from any legal responsibility for any unfortunate events resulting from a member’s own failure to abide by the Society’s only iron clad rule.  Your presence at any Society event is considered your tacit agreement to this rule. 

Membership Levels and Requirements

Our Society size is limited by the availability of seating of the facility at which we hold our tastings.  Perhaps someday we will be in a position to own/rent our own private Tasting Room that would accommodate a much larger and open membership, but until then, membership is by invitation only and limited to the availability of seating at our tasting location.  Potential new members or guests must be sponsored or invited by an existing full member.  Potential new members begin as Alternates.  Alternates that have attended four Tasting Meetings becomes eligible for full membership.

Yearly Dues: Members shall make a once-yearly “dues” contribution to the society of $150.  This covers the cost of the regular six scheduled tastings per year. 

Membership Requirements: To maintain Member status, a member must pay Yearly Dues and must not miss more than three meetings in a year. A member who fails to pay his/her annual dues and/or misses three or more meetings will forfeit his/her membership. 

Membership Levels:

v  Founding Members: The Founding Members represent the individuals who were responsible for organizing the Society and were the first to join the Society. They also have full member status.

v  Full Members: Members represent individuals who have paid their Yearly Dues and attend at least three quarter's of each year’s meetings.

v  Guests: If seats are available, any current Member in good standing may invite a guest to attend a Tasting Meeting.  Seat availability is determined after all Founding and Full Members have RSVP’d for a Tasting Meeting.   Guest fee for a tasting is $35.  Reserve Tastings are not open to Guests.

Steps to Becoming a Member: The only way currently in which an individual can become a member is as follows:

  1. New members openings only become available when a current member spot is vacated.
  2. Any individual who has attended at least 3 tastings as a guest of a current member(s) is eligible to be considered for membership, however all prospective members must be nominated for membership by a current member.
  3. Selection of new member(s) will done via a vote of the current members at a tasting with no guests/prospective members in attendance.
  4. A prospective member must receive a majority vote from the current members in order to to be selected for membership.
  5. To complete their membership, new Members must pay their Yearly Dues at the first tasting they attend after having become a member.  

Membership Benefits:

·         An opportunity to sample a wide range of single malts at a reasonable price with others who share your interest in single malts.

·         An opportunity to obtain single malts at a relatively low price.

·         A deeper knowledge and appreciation of single malts.

·         Access to a wide range of single malts

·         Collegiality and conviviality

Society’s Organizational Structure

Society’s Officers – Elected Positions:

In order to insure proper management, well being, and continued existence and growth of the Society, the members shall elect every two years, four individuals to serve as Society Officers (position descriptions are listed below).  While elections are held every two years, there are no term limits for these positions.  Any member may choose to run for a position.  Positions are determined through a secret ballot with the person achieving a plurality of votes of the Society’s membership for each position being elected to that position.

Chairman – The Chairman’s duties include planning and organizing meeting, making sure the Society adheres to its goals and policies, serving as a spokesperson for the Society, to be the liaison with the Keeper of the Notes regarding all correspondence and ensuring that minutes and tasting records are being adequately maintained and disseminated in a timely fashion, to be the liaison with the Treasurer about the financial state of the Society, to be the liaison with the Reserves Manager to keep an accurate account of the Society’s single malt holdings, works with Tasting Hosts to insure tastings meet Society’s standards, and to be the final arbiter of decisions regarding membership and other matters relating to the Society’s continued operation and well-being.

Vice Chairman – The Vice Chairman’s duties include working with the Chairman on plans or special projects, presiding over Society issues and in the event of the Chairman’s absence, and carry out all duties as assigned by the Chairman.

Treasurer – The Treasurer is responsible for collecting Yearly Dues, Tasting Meeting Fees, and handling, recording, and maintaining proper records of all financial transactions of the Society.

Keeper of the Notes – The Keeper of the Notes is responsible for collecting and compiling the any minutes of any meeting and is particularly responsible for collecting and compiling a record of the Members tasting notes and scores at each Tasting Meeting

Society Officers – Non-Elected Positions:

Reserves Manager – The Reserves Manager duties are to inventory and store the Society’s unfinished bottles of single malts from various Tasting Meetings. In addition, the Reserves Manager is responsible for selecting one – two Reserves for open sampling at each Tasting Meeting and for selecting four Reserves for a Reserves Meeting.

Keeper of the Web – The Keeper of the Web duties include the design and maintenance of the Society’s web page.

Society Events and Guidelines

Dress Code:
 Casual. Shorts and open-toed shoes are considered appropriate for summer meetings.
 
Tasting Meetings:
 The fee for each Tasting Meeting for full members is $150 paid yearly and $35 for Alternates each meeting attended.  Note:  The Society may on occasion decide to do a Special Tasting Meeting where rare or extremely old whiskies will be tasted.  For those events the fees may be higher.  The fees and event will subject to membership approval in advance.  All fees are used by the tasting host to procure the whiskies to be blind-tasted (a minimum of three different whiskies must be purchased for a tasting) by the group and as other needed accoutrements (distilled water, light snacks, e.g., crackers).  Any funds not utilized for a given tasting are distributed equally among the membership who paid to attend the event. 

In addition, at each Tasting Event, attendees may sample from two selected reserves from previous tastings (Reserves are the remainders of bottles from previous tastings not auctioned off at the end of a given Tasting Event).  Tastings will typically have a maximum attendance limit of 12 people. After a Tasting, all unfinished new whiskies are auctioned off; any new whiskies not auctioned off go into the Reserves.  Auctions for each new bottle will begin at 50% of the single malts original purchase price.  Funds generated via the auction are added to the fees collected for the next Tasting Meeting to enable a wider range of whiskies to be tasted or more expensive bottles to be purchased.

Tasting Host: Each meeting will be organized, prepared, conducted, recorded, and followed-up upon by the Tasting Host. For each meeting, there must be a theme that increases attendee’s knowledge and deepens their experience of whisky. Whiskies should not be randomly selected bottles or duplicate whiskies we've already tasted.  The Tasting Host is responsible for retrieving the Society’s whisky glasses from the previous Tasting Host.

The position of Tasting Host rotates for each meeting. Any current member in good standing may elect to serve as Tasting Host, and may reserve a future month’s meeting at any point. The position is voluntary.  The Tasting Host is responsible for the theme and the preparation of materials on the distilleries and whiskies being tasted.  Note:  All Tasting Meetings will be conducted using a double-blind-tasting format.

Tasting Notes: As part of our effort to expand our knowledge and appreciation of different single malts, at each Tasting Meeting, each member shall be responsible for recording his/her own tasting notes (not required, but encouraged). Each whiskey shall be given a score on the scale listed below and a brief description of the whisky’s key attributes.  The Score given by each member for particular single malts will be averaged with all the other member’s scores to come up with an average score for that single malt.  Tasting sheets will be split down the middle so that they can be separated and one part turned in and the other kept by the member as part of their own set of personal tasting notes.

Reserves Meetings: Reserves Meetings occur at the memberships’ discretion, and are open to full members only. There is no fee, no theme for these meetings, and the Reserves may be sampled from in accordance with the Society’s basic rule of moderation.  Attendance for Reserve Meetings is limited to a maximum of 15 members.

Meeting Reservations: Members must reserve in advance a seat for each meeting.  Individuals who failed to register in advance and wish to attend a meeting after the reservation date where space is available will be charged a late fee of $10 to be added to the regular fee. 

When not enough seats are available to accommodate all those requesting attendance to a Tasting Meeting, priority is given in the following way: 1) Founding Members (original members), 2) Members, and 3) Alternates. Within those categories, preference is on a first-RSVP-first-served basis. Reasonable cutoff dates will be set to prevent those with higher status from stalling for an undue amount of time to commit to attendance.

Please Note: Once a person has reserved a seat for a Tasting, they are monetarily responsible for that seat if they fail to show, unless that seat can be filled.