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Whisky Subscription Boxes: A Comparative Study

2017-03-20

You’re probably already familiar with the concept of subscription boxes : a monthly/bi-monthly selection of products you receive straight to your doorstep, designed around a specific theme. Beauty, food, dog & cat accessories, books and even panties (yes, true story !), there’s something to suit every taste and that shouldn’t come as a surprise : whisky lovers also have their own subscription services ! And each of those has its advantages and downsides, let’s have a closer look at three of those malted boxes…

(I’m only comparing 3 services here (which I chose because the concept was different), you’ll find a list of many other whisky subscription boxes I haven’t had the occasion to test at the end of the article)

Craft Whisky Club (from £26.95/month) has already been operating in the UK for a while (and recently launched in the USA). The overall concept of this box is to showcase the work of smaller or more uncommon distillers with an innovative approach. But Craft Whisky Club isn’t only about good whisky, it also includes some foodie treats in every box to match with your dram, whether it is ginger oatcakes, dark chocolate or cheese crackers… Staying true to themselves by only selecting craft and/or organic delicacies.

CWC offers two types of subscriptions : 1 full-size bottles every two months or 2 full-size bottles every two months. All their partners are featured on a dedicated « highlight » page on their website with more information about the distillery, interviews etc. In my opinion, a really cool way to connect their off-line service to their online activity.

CWC is really what I would call a ‘curated’ experience and seems dedicated to helping customers find their way into craft whiskies. It would then suit all sorts of whisky lovers : beginners, amateurs, connoisseurs and experts alike.

Rate : 4/5 (just because you don’t receive something every month and it can feel a bit long to wait 2 months between each box 😉 )

Image result for craft whisky club

 

Flaviar (from €18/month) has been around since a while now and seems to be quite successful, although, when browsing their website, the approach seems a bit complicated to me at first sight.

First, there’s a waiting list (hmm…). Once you finally get on the club, you get a free taster box every quarter plus 1 free shipping credit per quarter on full-size bottle purchases. Cost depends on where you’re based but seems to be around $20 per month for the quarterly sampler box, plus 1 free shipping credit per month on one-off purchases, and of course access to purchases of full-size bottles.

While Flaviar has access to a great variety of spirits (15 000+) and can then offer very interesting, diversified expressions and more uncommon bottlings, it requires a lot of « work » from the customers who are responsible for choosing their quarterly taster box, and to do their own full-size purchases. If you’re willing to enter the Flaviar club, make sure you have enough spare time 😉

Flaviar is therefore more designed for whisky connoisseurs to me, or at least consumers that already have some solid basics and don’t need much guidance.

Rate : 2/5 (especially for the waiting list… Although I must admit this is fairly well priced)

Image result for flaviar

 

Caskers (from $79/month) : beside their online shop, Caskers also offers the possibility to subscribe to their « club ». Looking at the whiskey offering, Caskers’ promise is to deliver a 75cl bottle to your home every month of what they refer to as a « must have » whiskey. There’s no pre-announcement so the bottle you’ll receive will come as a complete surprise.

I won’t necessarily recommend it to someone who already has a great collection of whiskies (you could easily receive doubles of bottlings you already have) but more to someone really starting his whiskey discovery journey, as it is a great way to build a nice collection of diverse and iconic whiskies that you can’t go wrong with.

Along with your bottle, you’ll also receive some informational whiskey-related content. Again, this content would mostly suit a beginner than a die-hard connoisseur which would already know a great deal when it comes to whiskey !

Rate 3/5 (maybe my favourite if you just began your whisky adventure!)

Image result for caskers

 

Of course there aren’t just 3 subscription boxes, you can also check The Dram Team, Wishky, The W Club from The Whisky Shop, Tasters Club, Tasting Collection, The Whisky Order, Yoco or Whisky Tasting Company – and that’s probably not an exhaustive list (Sadly I haven’t tested them all yet 😉 )!

Psssst! Check my previous article on my favourite whisky subscription boxes for more.

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This article was previously published on The Whiskey Wash

Cover pic: Flaviar