Flaviar changed their membership model so you know what that means: It’s corporate shill time once again! That’s right, for the second time 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.
Flaviar has made a major overhaul to their membership model, and my old review is now woefully out of date. To remedy that, Flaviar generously offered to send me a free tasting box (and a full bottle!) to entice me to fix my own mistake. Score. The key takeaway, if you are familiar with the service and don’t want to read the whole review, is that for slightly more money than the old club, you get a 3-vial tasting box of your choice plus a full-sized (750ml in the US, 700ml elsewhere) bottle of your choice every quarter, aka every 3 months. You also get access to purchase their other tasting boxes (that always ship for free) or full-sized bottles with once-a-month free shipping, plus a number of other features. You can no longer “skip” a month/quarter like you could in the old club.
Flaviar is a spirits company operating in the EU and the US (see the bottom of this post for shipping restrictions) and their rep told me that they do have a significant number of customers from the US. In fact, in recent years they appear to have made partnerships with spirits retailers/importers in the US because my box arrived with a California return address. The company’s tasting boxes are nicely-presented cylindrical padded tubes with three 1.7oz (that’s about 50ml) vials containing curated selections of spirits (whisky, of course, but also rums, gins, etc.). Included in your membership you choose one full-sized bottle from 10 choices and one tasting box from 10 choices per quarter aka once every 3 months. You can also order bottles and tasting boxes individually with free shipping once per month (and tasting boxes always ship for free). If you choose to purchase them separately, tasting boxes of 3 samples range from $38 to $45 or more depending on the spirits chosen, although nearly all of them are $38. Three pours of whisky for $38 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.
From the photos, you can see another new fun feature: The tasting vials arrive without identifying labels, and instead are marked “A”, “B”, and “C”. Paper coasters in the box contain notes on each sample as well as a sticker with the “real” label that you can stick onto the vial after you do a blind tasting, if that’s your bag. Flaviar suggests you order several boxes and do a blind tasting party with friends, which is a cool idea but pretty costly in reality. Oh, each box contains an unglazed “Flaviar” ceramic coaster too. Woohoo.
Click to see choices of samples and bottles for me in November 2019 (they will change often!)
Everything in the box is very well-packed: Flaviar knows how to keep the sample vials safe, and the bottles are also well-protected. Shipping was fast: They estimated 3-7 work days for my shipment based on my location in California, and the box arrived in 3.
Flaviar’s website contains a trove of information about everything they sell, or have sold, including tasting notes, “flavor spirals”, and a decent amount of factual information (type of barrel, age, ABV, etc.). They also publish articles, videos, and so on. Flaviar also has a “Vault” where they periodically release very rare (and very very expensive) bottles for members only, as well as Deer, Bear and Moose… an independent bottling arm, and their private brands, such as Son of a Peat, Shakmat, Larga Vida, and Hercules Mulligan. Did I mention they sell booze Advent Calendars? Flaviar’s got a lot going on.
The current price of a subscription (look out for holiday sales and specials if you want bonus goodies with your first box) is $95 for a single quarter or $300 for a whole year. The year membership represents an $80 savings. Of course, you can cancel any time. Let’s do some math: 4 bottles costing an average of around $45 each retail plus 4 tasting boxes that cost at least $38 each is $332. By buying the annual subscription you’re saving $32 off of the retail cost of the whisky that you’re getting, plus getting access to 1.7oz sample sets that aren’t available anywhere outside of Master of Malt (which STILL doesn’t ship to the US unless you buy an advent calendar). That’s a reasonable deal with the caveat that you’re committing to purchasing bottles that you might not otherwise have done. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether that’s a trade-off that makes sense for you.
I’d also like to point out that a Flaviar tasting box, subscription, or advent calendar makes a good gift for a burgeoning spirits lover. Why give someone a bottle of whisky when you can gift them many tasting experiences for the same price (or less)? The Gift Subscriptions can be for 6 months (two quarterly shipments) or 1 year, 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 occasional specials. Sometimes they have discounts on subscriptions or full-sized bottles, although the frequency of these discounts has gone down. Overall, I think Flaviar provides a good service, despite higher-than-I’d-like prices. In my opinion it’s always better to spend $13 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 $13 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, that they essentially force you to buy a bottle every quarter, and that they no longer allow you to “skip” a month/quarter without paying. If I could change anything about the service (aside from the price), it would be those things.
About US Shipping: Flaviar ships to the United States, with the exception of the following states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. Unfortunately, we also cannot ship to Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, PO Boxes and APO/FPO/DPO (AE/AP/AA) addresses, as well as forwarding services and courier depots. But don’t hesitate to stay in touch, because we are expanding to new territories every month. They do offer shipping to some other countries – contact their Sales department to inquire.