Saturday, 19 December 2015

Entering into the spirit of things

Over recent years, the rise of craft beer has been paralleled by a similar growth in craft spirits, with new distilleries springing up for the first time in many years, and existing ones coming out with new variations on their established products. The craft beer scene has also seen a number of companies offering the chance to try something new by sending people a “curated” selection of beers each month. I was interested to hear about a company called Flaviar – based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, of all places – providing a similar service for spirits.

They were kind enough to send me one of their initial tasting packs for review – these can be bought individually here. It came in an attractive presentation pack:

Which, once opened, revealed five elegant 45ml miniature flasks.

They were all different varieties of whisk(e)y, as it combines familiarity with an unparalleled variety, and is thus a good introduction to tasting spirits that go beyond the everyday. The selection comprised:

  • Amrut Indian Single Malt (46% ABV)
  • Koval Single Barrel Millet Whiskey (Chicago) (40% ABV)
  • Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (46% ABV)
  • Santis Cask Strength Peated (Switzerland) (52% ABV)
  • Writer’s Tears Irish Pot Still Whiskey (40% ABV)
The pack also includes suggestions on how to organise a tasting session, and detailed notes on each of the five whiskies.

For some reason, the Indian one did not appeal to my particular tastebuds, but all the others were excellent and underlines just how much diversity there is across different styles of whisky. My favourite was the Glenmorangie, a rich and complex expression of that distillery’s characteristic Northern Highland character, and I was also very struck by the heavily peated Swiss whisky which would not have disgraced an Islay distillery.

One minor quibble is that the smooth-sided caps on the flasks may look smart but can be a little hard to unscrew.

Their key offering is their Prime service, under which you will receive a tasting pack of three different spirits each month, costing £14.99 for the first month, and then £18.99 a month. If you find one that you like, then you can order a full bottle with free shipping. The prices start at around £30, which is much the same as you would pay for a good-quality malt in the shops, but rise to well over £100. The listing also includes some very tempting-sounding drams. As well as whisky, it also covers brandy, gin, vodka, tequila and absinthe. Gift packs are also available for various periods of time, starting at £37.99 for two months.

The whole thing sounds an excellent idea for anyone who is interested in trying a much wider variety of spirits without risking a lot of money on full-size bottles that may turn out to be disappointing. It certainly doesn’t come cheap but, as with many other things, quality is worth paying for.

And no, before you ask, I didn’t drink them all in one session!


  1. Top marks for packaging anyway. Think I'll stick with the bottle of Laphroaig I've been sipping occasionally for the last 15 years !

  2. It was a welcome freebie, and all very tastefully done. Good luck to them.

    But I have to ask myself how much I would be prepared to pay for it out of my own pocket, and the answer is a lot less than £19 a month.

    Personally I would also like to see 50ml measures in the distillers' own distinctive bottling.

  3. @retiredmartin

    Heh! Yes, I have a bottle of Laphroaig that's been on my drinks cabinet shelf for a similar amount of time - and there's still about three inches left! It's my favourite whisky, but although an enthusiastic drinker, I'm not really a spirits man, so my collection of spirits remains very comprehensive. The spirit I like most is Rum, followed by Tequila (not immediately, I hasten to add), but even those I drink rarely. My tipple of choice is red wine, of which I drink copious quantities. I buy (from a wholesale outlet of the grower) 10 litre boxes of (currently) 2013 Merlot / Syrah at 13.5% ABV from the Nemea region, an excellent mainland table wine that beats a lot of wines you pay €6 and more a bottle for - and for my 10 litres I pay the princely sum of €20.

    However, back on topic, I agree, the presentation is very slick, and the idea is good. However like you, Mudge, I would like to see the original packaging. As it is, it looks like a selection of perfume, or e-liquid or something. What's wrong with just packaging miniatures sourced from the various distillers? Much more interesting, and the end result is the same insofar as you get to try a selection of different spirits without breaking the bank.


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