By Richard Thomas
Twenty years ago, if you were a genuinely devoted fan of a particular type of whiskey—Scotch, Irish, bourbon, what have you—you could acquaint yourself with most offerings in your field of choice in just a few years. One of the points of evidence that so undermines the shortage claims is how much this has changed: there are now so many brands, as well as a staggering number of finishes and cask strengths and other permutations, out there that nobody can really be said to be familiar with them all, even inside a single sector.
That is where Flaviar comes in, a service that functions as something akin to a “Product of the Month” club. You join and sample packs from Flaviar come to your door.
The sample pack I received contained five samples, and Flaviar appears to have since reorganized this down to just three, but even so it demonstrated some of the care that goes into their choices. The obvious way to go about a five sample single malt Scotch pack would be to draw one sample from each of Scotland’s whisky regions, and Flaviar didn’t do that. Even so, their choices were both interesting, representative, and not entry-level either: Glenlivet 18, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Singleton 15, Auchentoshan 12, and Lagavulin 16.
That covers three regions, hitting the most prolific (Speyside) and the one with the most rabid fan base (Islay) twice. I don’t think I could do much better, at least not at a reasonable price, if I were putting together a step-up flight for middling Scotch drinkers.
From a whiskey devotee’s point of view, the one drawback to Flaviar is you cannot do a whiskey-only subscription. You can buy whiskey gift packs, but the “Spirit of the Month” side of things puts you in the mix of everything distilled. For those who want to try new cognac, gin, tequila and whatnot too, that isn’t a bad thing, but you should know that you’ll get as much or more of non-whiskey samples as you will of your poison of choice.