Now it could be said I'm bias, but this is my own opinion as a member
! I'm not sure why you guys are questioning the membership?
The bottles aren't really that expensive, for example the new 25.46:
17 years old,
Outturn: 228 botles
It's on the new list is amazing (because of the panel it's guaranteed pretty good quality) and only £66 (with postage) or £64 in the venues as there is £2 off the list price when you use a venue.
Now I live in Edinburgh, so can go to the venue and sample it first and see if I agree with the tasting notes then buy, now Royal Mile Whisky has Similar 1990 Old Malt Cask:http://www.royalmilewhiskies.com/product.asp?pf_id=0010000032673
ABV: 50 %
Volume: 0.7 Litre
Age: 18 Years Old
orhttp://www.royalmilewhiskies.com/produc ... 0000029659
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Alc. Volume: 61.1
Both of these I would be unlikely to sample first and would be a pot luck of whether it was really worth it! Plus there is a £7.70 delivery charge. so would be more expensive. Also, where if you are looking for a special treat, say an old Glenfarclas at the whisky exchange at £175 you can get a 1982 bottling or for £1500 you can get the 40 year old, but 1.141 is 41 year old or the 40 year old 7.48 both at £185 and you can try it before you buy if near a venue. Even the current 24.104 at £60 (£58 at a venue) is cheaper than the distillery bottling from the whisky exchange http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-8762.aspx
You can still buy proprietor bottlings if you want and compare, 52.18 7 years old and is £39 (£37 from the venues) and really interesting compare against the standard 12 years old bottle £22 approx, but where else do you get to see single cask whisky at it's most natural and in most cases very unique from the standard expressions.
Feel this thread started out as a dig at not being Independent any more, but the good out ways the bad. Access to a bigger cask range without having to commit to pretty much buying the whisky and buying power to fill our own casks. Staff get a better deal too.
No ones really said what the membership is either:
£100 to join with an annual £49.50 renewal fee. Joint membership is £125 for 2 people (which me and my wife have) and the renewal is around £65. The society send out a pack now with 4 10cl mixed bottles, hardback members book and note book, badge and personal card, glossy magazine, list of whiskies and events guide.
Now I know the fee doesn't in anyway pays for the Venues, which are managed very well Exciseman.If you visit a venue Doug and all the Guys at the Vaults are great, Jan and the team in Queen Street are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, plus Jen, David, Jonathan and TJ at London are great fun to chat to.
The Membership fee as far as I'm aware pays the admin, printing of the monthly list and unfiltered mag and membership pack costs as the venues have to be self sustaining. If anyones believes the list comes out for nothing your crazy, has any one tried printing business cards or even photos? It's not cheap and at the end of the day you as a member want to know what whiskies are being bottled so the cost has to be put in some where down the line. I wouldn't want to pay for 18000+ magazines and a 36 page guide monthly.
Now lets be honest if you love whisky and want to try new and different expressions from a diverse range of distilleries you join, however, if you don't and just have excuses to make it seem expensive then don't complain or join.