DFW Whiskey Club
Like many great things, the DFW Whiskey Club got its official start one night on a patio—but the true origin story begins a couple of years before that. Sometime around 2013, co-founders Paolo Tang and Raymond Taylor met on social media. They became fast friends and quickly developed a network of like-minded whiskey lovers, all of whom were struggling to find an engaged, local whiskey group to join.
“We had a core group of guys who we were conversing with, doing trades with, finding bottles for, and helping each other out,” Taylor says. “So Paolo and a couple of the other guys were sitting on a patio one evening and said, ‘Well screw it. Let's finally do it!’…I wasn’t able to join them that night, but I woke up the next morning, and I was an admin of some Facebook group called DFW Whiskey Club.”
Shortly after the inception of the Facebook group, Tang and Taylor met their third co-founder Dustin Morrison, and the club was off to a running start. “We started selecting barrels in 2016, and we wanted to keep the group small to make sure that when we picked a barrel, each person would get [a bottle],” Tang says. “Well, Dallas-Fort Worth is a big area, and it just caught on fire before we knew it. Years down the road, and we're at nearly 3,000 members.”
The club’s founders set up barrel selections a couple of times a year, and bring any members who want to join to tour distilleries such as James B. Beam, Five Points, and Heaven Hill. Along with visiting Texas and Kentucky distilleries, DFW Whiskey Club has done tastings and pairings with whiskey from around the world. While not all 3,000 members participate in person, Taylor estimates that roughly 1,000 of the members are very active and participate in events whenever they can.
Founders Raymond Taylor, Paolo Tang, and Dustin Morrison, along with member Jesse Largent at Four Roses select a barrel of whiskey.
No matter how large the club grows, its core values have stayed the same—first and foremost, the DFW Whiskey Club is about helping each other out. Whether that means locating a certain bottle for a member that can’t find it or raising money for local restaurants during the pandemic, the club’s growth allowed them to help on a bigger scale.
“Members were really enjoying the [barrel] picks that the club was doing, and we thought, ‘How can we take advantage of this to help people?’” Taylor says. The club started working with liquor store owners to charge a little extra for every bottle of their barrel picks to give to local charities such as North Texas Food Bank, Toys for Tots, and Cooks Children’s Health Foundation.
“It really organically grew into something that we did not anticipate, and we love where it went,” Morrison says. “It went from just a small core group of guys to something that's actually contributing to the community and helping others.”
Along with serving local charities, the most rewarding aspect of the club, according to the co-founders, is being able to help out struggling members. For example, one member’s niece was diagnosed with cancer, and the club was able to hand over a $20,000 check to her family. “It's great to support the big organizations, but to be able to actually see that money going somewhere to people whom you know, you can just see what it's done for them,” Morrison says.
With so many members, the DFW Whiskey Club has groups within it—a poker group, a scotch group, and more—but they all come together at least twice a year for their annual “#SickInvite” meeting (an inside joke among members) and club golf tournament. The club also hosts whiskey and dinner pairings at restaurants, tastings, trips to distilleries, and other events that are rooted in loving whisky and supporting DFW. There are no membership dues, so the cost of each event is split among the participating members. “We do this for fun,” Tang says. “We don't take a single penny off of this.”