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Drinks for members only

DRINKS FOR MEMBERS ONLY

A PEEK INTO THE WORLD’S MOST EXCLUSIVE WINE AND SPIRITS CLUBS

At the world’s most exclusive wine and spirits clubs, members get to experience some of the best bottles out there. But perhaps more important, they also gain access to the people who know why they are the best: sommeliers, wine producers, and libation gurus who have put in the hours and who know the history of the spirits, the esoteric brand biographies, and the alchemic intricacies of a spirit’s production. Indeed, there is something to be said about exclusivity.

For those who can fork over the cash—and it is typically a lot of cash—and who have an appreciation for fine drink, joining one of these clubs can be worthwhile. By nature, these clubs can be a bit hard to find. To make your search easier, here are some of the world’s most prestigious and exclusive ones.

Cielo Club

Part of Moraga Bel Air, a pristine estate in the Santa Monica Mountains outside Los Angeles, the name of this club refers to a block of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vines at the summit of the vineyard, overlooking the Pacific; cielo means “sky” in Italian. Though a strenuous hike is required to reach that area, the club itself is effortless. Beyond deliveries of wine cases in the fall and the spring, it provides members with access to events at the Moraga Library Salon located on the estate, which is the former home of Victor Fleming, director of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.

Cielo Club, part of Moraga Bel Air, in the Santa Monica Mountains, offers refined tastings
Cielo Club, part of Moraga Bel Air, in the Santa Monica Mountains, offers refined tastings.

Multnomah Whiskey Library

The waiting list to become a member at this cozy, stupendously stocked whiskey bar in Portland, Ore., is about two years. Nonmembers can still visit without a reservation, although there can sometimes be a long wait—but it’s worth it. Home to 1,800 whiskeys priced from $5 to $800 a glass, a bevy of heavenly cocktails, and a world-class food menu to boot, Multnomah is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or evening. Be sure to try the elk tartare.

Mondiale

To join this famed wine society, one first needs to become a member of France’s Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest gastronomic society. The Société Mondiale du Vin (commonly known as Mondiale) was formed for members who had a passion for vino. Members, many of whom are practicing or aspiring sommeliers, get access to a wide variety of exquisite and often rare vintages. Open to professionals and amateur connoisseurs alike, new members are admitted during a special ceremony and awarded a tastevin (tasting cup) to wear.

Keepers of the Quaich

It is rather difficult to become a member of this uber-exclusive society: You must have worked in the scotch industry for at least five years and be invited to join. To date, there are around 2,700 members from over 100 countries. Meetings for the group (which has its own tartan) are held twice a year at Blair Castle, the seat of the Duke of Atholl in Scotland. Honor guards for guests are members of the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only legal private army. These are highly ritualized, prestigious affairs, with scotch aplenty and engaging guest speakers: Ronald Reagan gave a talk at one.

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