Flaviar’s Improved Membership Model

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Flaviar has made a major overhaul to their membership model, and my old review is now woefully out of date.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!)
This is just an example of the kinds of options you have for your quarterly subscription, remember that they will change frequently. There are always 10 choices of bottles and 10 choices of tasting boxes.

Bottles

  • Whistlepig 10 rye (375ml)
  • Old Elk bourbon
  • Balcones Baby Blue
  • Sagamore rye
  • Highland Park Viking Honour 12
  • Starward Nova
  • Glenrothes 12
  • Few Rye
  • Dictator 12 rum
  • Few bourbon

Tasting Boxes (Three 45ml vials)

  • Welcome box (Breckenridge bourbon, FEW rye, Wolfburn scotch)
  • Craft bourbon
  • Rum
  • Mezcal
  • Global whisky (hyde, paul john, kings county)
  • Kilchoman flight
  • Alexander Murray flight
  • Rye
  • Exceptional (scotch blends)
  • Texas spirits

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, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Unfortunately, we also cannot ship to Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, PO Boxes and APO/FPO/DPO (AE/AP/AA) addresses. But don’t hesitate to stay in touch, because we are expanding to new territories every month.

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  • I just wish Canada’s ancient stupid liqour laws would be changed so we could get this here. Its rediculous in this day age we are still using laws drafted 50 + years ago that don’t apply anymore.

  • How do you figure that the tastings are worth the price? My wife got me a 6 month subscription for Christmas, which Flaviar happily charged her $190 for, $95/quarter. There are no full bottles to choose from, only a $50 credit for their store, and the one tasting for the quarter. This means $45 for 150ml of whiskey, which would average $225 for a 750ml bottle.
    My wife was so excited when she gave it to me, but very disappointed when she saw the size of the sample bottles. I kind of feel like she got ripped off.

    • Hi Pat, I’m a bit confused by your description – unless something has changed, you choose a full bottle along with your tasting set every quarter. I’ll check with my Flaviar rep on that. I would definitely not say that the price is “worth” the per-ml volume. It IS “worth” the chance to taste whiskies before buying them, especially if you don’t live near a very well-stocked whisky bar. $15 for a “glass” of whisky is pretty standard for things that are usually $50+ a bottle, although if you tried hard enough you could definitely “do better” with a well-stocked bar and careful choosing. For me, there’s also a difference between a glass in a bar where noise, travel, etc., makes analyzing a whisky difficult (I’ve tried it a number of times and always end up with less-than-useful tasting notes) versus evaluating a whisky in the comfort of your home. It maybe that I am biased because I view whisky tasting through the lens of this blog, but I’m happy to pay $15 for a taste to avoid buying full-sized bottles for $50-$70.

      Put another way – and maybe my review above does not make this clear – Flaviar is not a good choice for getting lots of whisky for cheap. It’s specifically good for trying whisky without having to buy (as many) full bottles. As I mentioned above, I miss the version of the club that didn’t automatically include full-sized bottles. With Master of Malt still not shipping their Drinks by the Dram to the US, though (outside of advent calendars), Flaviar is currently the best option for sample-sized whisky.

    • Pat,
      My Flaviar rep got back to me: “The full size bottle can be either chosen from a selection of bottles or, in some US states, by using a $50 credit for the purchase of any bottle available at Flaviar’s online store.” In other words, some US state laws require it to be a monetary credit instead of a free bottle, which is likely some remnant of post-Prohibition liquor laws.

  • DO NOT use Flaviar if you want to receive the products you purchase in a timely manner.

    I placed an expensive order in time to receive for the December holidays. Guess what, the absolute earliest anything will arrive after THREE rescheduled delivery dates without any notice (requiring us to sit at home waiting to sign for deliveries that never arrived) will be the 2nd week in January. You know, IF the delivery service Flaviar chooses to use decides to even deliver then!

    Given that most of what I wanted was not available via their site (higher end, top shelf bottles) nor are their prices among the lowest- can’t see the value in using Flaviar. Bottom line: my first time using them will also be my last time. I’ll join a different club instead.

    Oddly, they could have made thousands from me on purchase of high end bottles within just a single month. Instead, they lost me completely. Good job, Flaviar!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I didn’t have any issues with Flaviar’s shipping, myself, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I don’t consider Flaviar a resource for low-priced whisky. I consider it a resource for tasting samples without having to buy a ton of bottles blind. For that, there’s not a lot of competition unless you’re in a country that Master of Malt ships to.

  • There is currently only seven bottle from which to choose. I like the idea of the club, but I would like more versatility in the choices.