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.
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.