Drinking is an expensive habit.
Drinking whisky, is even more so. In a list of the 10 most expensive spirits, published on thedrinksbusiness.com in 2014, whisky dominated with a total of 5 slots. That’s half of the list! But to be fair, no one is really coughing up almost half a million dollars to try a 64 year old Macallan. Unless you’re whoever this guy is, then to hell with it. No, the average person, at the average pub/bar/liquor store, is basing their purchase on 3 main categories: preference, availability and price – not necessarily in that order. Though that may seem like common sense, with the ever growing popularity of spirits, in particular whisky, some expressions are becoming so rare and so sought after, that the cost for indulging in them is becoming more and more ridiculous. Take for instance the infamous Pappy Van Winkle. The fine folks at Buffalo Trace have done a remarkable job at creating a huge amount of hype behind the brand, marketing it as not only rare, but a necessity for any American Bourbon lover. And it works. I mean, a couple of years ago, an empty bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year was sold on ebay.
Now, we all understand that certain whiskies will, inherently, be more exclusive. The longer a whisky ages, the less of that whisky is available. So it makes sense that it is deemed more valuable than others, simply because there isn’t enough in the world to go around. For most of us, this isn’t the best of news. There are many whiskies out there that we would all love to sample, but in most cases, circumstances just do not allow. So what are we to do? How can we sample as much new whisky as possible, without our wallets sending us a two week notice?
Flaviar is a UK-based subscription service that markets itself as a “club of spirit lovers and enthusiasts.” Each month, their members are sent a new tasting pack with various flavours of either gin, whisky, tequila, etc, or a combination of them all. Through their service, their members will be able to experience spirits they otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and because every month is a new tasting pack, there’s no pressure of doing your own research on what to try next. Seems legit, right? Well let’s get further into it.
1st month (subsequent months)
US: $24.99 ($39.99)
UK: £17.99 (£27.99)
DE: €19.99 (€34.99)
EU: €21.99 (€34.99
Tasting packs are shipped every 3rd Monday of the month and can take anywhere between 7-21 business days to arrive on your door step, depending on which part of the world you live. However, for new members, the tasting pack is shipped within one business day after payment, so if you signed-up on a Tuesday, don’t worry, you don’t have to wait a month. In addition to their tasting packs, Flaviar has also started selling full bottles of various spirits to their customers, providing a small discount based on retail (regional, I assume) prices.
The Tasting Package:
I’ll admit, I was pretty impressed with the packaging. It’s stylishly designed, and really does give the impression that you belong to an elite club of spirit enthusiasts. This will make for a great gift to a friend without being outlandish, whether he or she is a liquor connoisseur or just enjoys a taste every now and then. Needless to say, I was genuinely excited to open it and reveal its contents.
Each tasting pack includes five (5) 45ml vials of liquor. Along with the vials, two pamphlets containing tasting notes and information on Flaviar are inside. I got a chuckle out of the narrative Flaviar uses; they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously and approach the experience as a friend sharing his/her collection, as oppose to an organisation lecturing you on the right way to drink the spirits. I truly appreciated this, as it adds a sense of familiarity to the entire experience. Anyway, to state the obvious, I got a whisky pack, but to be more precise, I got the “Scotch & The Islands” tasting pack. This pack includes Highland Park 12, Isle of Jura Turas Mara, Arran Lochranza Reserve, Ledaig 10 and last but not least, Talisker 57° North.
I immediately opted to crack open one of the vials and treat myself to a wee dram. For purposes of this here review (if that’s what you can even call it), I’ll save my thoughts on the whiskies themseles for another date.
Now let me stress, when I say “a wee dram” I mean “a wee dram.” I poured half of one vial into our W+A’s D&L glass and I was taken a back by how little was actually in there. Granted, I’ve touched on how deceptive the D&L glass could be, but still. And yes, I know this is a tasting pack and as such, I shouldn’t expect a whole lot of liquid. However, Flaviar states that one of their tasting packs is enough for you and two friends to sample all of the whiskies. Well, 45ml isn’t really a lot, because that means each person only gets about 15ml a vial. I don’t know if we’re just a bunch of alcoholics on this side of the pond (or maybe just selfish), but an average pour for us is about 30ml or 1oz. When we’re feeling indulgent, we opt for 60ml (2oz). So the whole sharing thing? Yea… Maybe not.
Flaviar curating your packages does indeed create a sense of mystery and excitement as you open you monthly shipment, however, it would be nice if there was at least an option to customize your own pack. I think that’s my only grief with it, but frankly, I’m just being picky. I mean, I still get 5 different whiskies for a reasonable price. What’s not to like?! Their tasting packs are always changing, offering new brands, distilleries and experiences for their members to sample from. A look at their past packages show quite a range in which they have covered; from peated Scotch monsters, to some of the best whiskeys the Emerald Isle has to offer. And of course, their packs go beyond the golden elixir to include rums, cognacs and more. When you think about it, if this pack cost $40, that’s $8 per dram (or $4 per dram if I share it with one person – I’m not THAT greedy). I don’t even think I could swing 5-10 whiskies of this quality for that amount of money at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. So I consider this a win!
All in all, if you are tired of your market not having the whisky you desire, or for a price you are comfortable with, or if you’re just looking to broaden your horizons, Flaviar is right down your alley. So get on over and subscribe.
Cheers – Peat