Flaviar

It’s corporate shill time again! That’s right, once again I’m going to recommend a product that I think is worthy of your attention, but which is also paying me via an affiliate program for sales, and YOU get to decide whether to trust my opinion or not. Frankly, I think you should research any purchase before making it, compare reviews, and only fork over your hard-earned cash once you know what to expect. That’s how I proceed with just about everything that I order online. If you do decide to make a purchase and want to support The Scotch Noob, use my affiliate links or banners below. Or don’t, your call.

Update 11/25/2016: Black Friday sale at Flaviar!
Update 2/1/2016: Flaviar has changed their subscription model. See below.

Flaviar is a spirits company based in the UK, but they ship to the United States as well (see the bottom of this post for restrictions) and their rep told me that they do have a significant number of customers from the US. While they do sell whole bottles (sometimes with hefty discounts), their primary business is “tasting boxes”, which are nicely-presented boxes of three or five 45ml vials containing curated selections of spirits (whisky, of course, but also rums, gins, etc.). As a member, you can choose to receive one tasting box per quarter (once every 3 months) for ‘free’, and you can also order tasting boxes individually. For-purchase tasting boxes of 3 or 5 samples range from $42 to $80 or more depending on the spirits chosen, but the company offers frequent coupon codes and sales which are worth watching for. Three pours of whisky for $42 is slightly more than what you’d expect to pay at a bar, although it’s a lot easier to analyze and ponder a dram when safely ensconced in your favorite chair at home.

This new subscription model seems to be a downgrade from the older model. For $60 per quarter, you receive one “free” tasting box worth (at minimum) $42. That means that you’re paying a premium of $18 per quarter for the opportunity to order more tasting boxes or to access Flaviar’s pricing on full bottles (which may or may not be better than your local liquor shops — it’s not better than K&L Wines & Spirits, which also ships). Flaviar does have some other perks included in the subscription, such as exclusive and rare bottles and once-a-month free shipping on orders.

Frequent visitors to my blog will know that I often recommend Master of Malt for tasting samples (and I still do). MoM gives you a lot more choice and range of prices, but the bottles are only 30 ml. I think a combination of both services gives a good array of home-tasting choices for those who don’t like tasting in noisy bars or buying whole bottles blind.

In order to purchase anything from Flaviar, you have to first subscribe to The Flaviar Speakeasy Club ($20 per month) which includes a ‘free’ tasting box of your choice once per quarter (once every three months), and free shipping on other purchases once per month. Note that while the tasting box selections are heavily weighted towards whisky, some contain other spirits or liqueurs. Subscriptions are charged monthly and auto-renew. You can, of course, cancel at any time. In keeping with the Speakeasy ethos, you must join a waiting list to be accepted for membership. However, join via any of the affiliate links on this page (which I get paid for, fair warning) to skip the line.

Update: Read my review of an all-rye tasting box here!

To see what the tasting boxes look like, you can see my unboxing of one of the 5-sample boxes in the photos below. (Note that this was the old Welcome Pack and this particular selection is no longer available). The glass bottles (vials?) are well-sealed and well-protected by the packaging, but without any styrofoam or bubble wrap to dispose of. The vials are accompanied by tasting notes and suggestions for how to run a tasting party for three people (I’m not convinced that 15ml per person is enough liquor for any kind of party, myself. Still, it’s a fun concept). The labels on each vial display the whisky name and a short description (“Swiss Peated Whisky” or “10 YO Japanese Whisky”), ABV, and date of bottling (the vial, not the original source bottle).

This particular tasting box contains an eclectic mix of relatively equivalent (quality-wise) selections: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Santis Swiss Whisky, Greenore 8 year Irish single-grain whisky, Nikka Yoichi 10 year Japanese Whisky, and Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky. Judging by the tasting box contents listed on the Flaviar website, you can pretty much expect each pour to be from a bottle in the $40 – $70 range, with a few exceptions in both directions.

I’d also like to point out that a Flaviar tasting box makes a good gift for a burgeoning spirits lover, and gift subscriptions are also possible. Why give someone a bottle of whisky when you can gift them five tasting experiences for the same price (or less)? Even better, The Gift Subscriptions can be chosen in limited 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month increments so you’re not on the hook for a recurring subscription!

Keep an eye out here, on Flaviar’s Facebook page, and in their email newsletter for good deals. Earlier this year they had 30% off full bottles and 40% off single tasting boxes (not subscriptions)! Overall, I think Flaviar provides a good service, despite higher-than-I’d-like prices. In my opinion it’s always better to spend $14 on a single glass of a whisky than $70 on a single bottle, on the chance that you won’t like it. If I had my way, I’d be able to buy a $14 taste of every bottle before I bought it! However, it’s unfortunate that Flaviar doesn’t allow you to just buy tasting boxes without being forced to subscribe.

About US Shipping: At the moment [Flaviar ships] to all European Union (EU) countries and the United States, with the exception of the following sates: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas or Utah. Unfortunately, we also cannot ship to PO Boxes, APO addresses.

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10 thoughts on “Flaviar

  1. Anyone who has left this service a good review is fooled by smoke and mirrors.

    This service is all pretty packaging and no substance. My introductory order took 6 weeks to arrive and Flaviar had GROSSLY mis-represented the quantity of whiskey I was getting.

    The tasting packs are 45ml each for 3 “bottles”. Even if a full bottle of each of these whiskies averages $80 (which I know for a fact some of them are significantly lower than that), 135 ml is worth $16 tops. Not $60.

    On top of all of that, it took SIX WEEKS for this crappy product to arrive.

    Save time. Save money. Find a good liquor store with a knowledgeable staff and get your recommendations that way. It would be a better value than this crappy service by literally a factor of 5.

    1. Hi Jody,
      Thanks for the comment. I too have noticed the long shipping times, which I believe is explained by their service originating in Europe (it’s not legal to bottle and resell alcohol from inside the United States). I have a similar problem with a popular clothing brand in Canada – my orders take several weeks to arrive.

      I’m curious how you think Flaviar misrepresented the quantity of whisky? I thought it was pretty clear that the service was for three 45ml samples in each box.

      Lastly, I wish I could find a good liquor store that offered tastings of whisky. I would definitely not find it necessary to order whisky samples from Europe (Flaviar AND Master of Malt), but alas I have not found such a thing. While I do trust the recommendations of the staff at my favorite liquor store (K&L Wines in northern California), nothing beats tasting before buying full bottles. Whisky appreciation is a very subjective thing, and I’ve had recommendation made to me that I very much disliked (and I’ve made recommendations here on the blog and met with conflicting opinions in the comments). In an ideal world, I would taste every single whisky before purchasing a full bottle.

      I suggest looking into Master of Malt’s Drinks by the Dram program (which is not a subscription service) if you don’t find Flaviar to your liking. Cheers!

    2. Jody,

      I agree Jody, it is all smoke and mirrors. $60 for basically 3 unknown drinks of whiskey, that arrive once every three months. I say take your money, and just go to a whiskey bar, do a bit of research, and pick one that you think will be pretty good, and order it.

      Cheers,
      Nathan.

  2. The problem I’ve had with Flaviar is there awful customer service. I ordered an expensive bottle of whisky and they sent me a cheap bottle of gin. I brought t to their attention and they just ignore my emails.
    Seems that I’ve lost my money- learn from my bad experience- buyer beware!!

    1. Hi Danny,
      I asked my contact at Flaviar about your case to see if there was anything I could do to help. Although they rightly wouldn’t give me any specifics about your support case, it did sound like your order was to a country they do not ship to, and my contact indicated that Flaviar issued appropriate refunds. Sorry that you had a bad experience with Flaviar, and thanks for reading. Cheers!

  3. I have been in contact with Flaviar and the told me straight up that the service was offered in Mississippi, Mississippi is also not one of the listed states they don’t ship to under their FAQ, have they gotten around our shipping laws here or have I been misled?

    1. It’s highly unlikely that they have gotten around any shipping laws. Most likely, the rep you spoke to was ignorant of US laws. If they said they don’t ship there in the FAQ, I would assume they cannot. You could try another rep to try to get confirmation.

  4. FLAVIAR is not a Spirits Box subscription service. It’s an online community of sorts and not a subscription service. You pay their subscription fees for the chance to buy small tasting boxes at questionable market prices and to be allowed to purchase from their online shop. The packaging and accompanying materials that are included with purchases are very well made and expertly/humorously written (they have someone there who’s adept in prose), and they seem to be knowledgeable and capable in the world of tasting and spirits. If you’d like to subscribe to an online resource, and accompanying community and exclusive shop, then this is for you. If you’re looking for a monthly drinks box, like I was, then this isn’t it. Sadly, Flaviar’s “marketing” is ambiguous and vague (maybe on purpose) on this state-of-affairs, thereby snagging unsuspecting monthly-box subscribers like myself.

    1. So, I agree Flaviar’s marketing is vague and they don’t explain their service very well, but it IS a subscription service for tasting boxes, they’re just quarterly, not monthly. You also “get” access to buy other boxes and full bottles if you wish. They’ve changed their subscription model several times, so the above post may be out of date. I’ll work on updating it asap.

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