What it's like to use Flaviar, a boozy subscription service that lets me try small bottles of expensive liquor before I invest in a bigger size (2023)

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  • Flaviar is an online spirits club for people who want to explore whiskey, vodka, tequila, and more.
  • Membership ($349/year or $109/quarter) includes a Tasting Box of samples and a full-sized bottle.
  • Members can also access Flaviar's reviews, articles, and rare collections.
  • See also: ReserveBar luxury wine and spirits review and 8 places to buy alcohol online now and get it delivered right to your door

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The world of fine and niche spirits can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to the scene. But if you're interested in trying small-batch whiskeys, vodkas, tequilas, and more, personalized spirits subscription service Flaviar is an excellent place to start.

In addition to providing quality options (including rare bottles) at great prices, Flaviar also serves as an online community for fellow fans to get together and talk about everything spirits-related.

What is Flaviar?

An annual membership billed once a year is $349, while a quarterly membership is $109 and billed every three months.

As a member, you can choose one tasting box and one full-size bottle every three months, plus you'll receive access to distillery and bottle profiles, member reviews, free distillery tours, and exclusive events. There's also a Digital Home Bar, where you can revisit all the bottles you own and receive personalized recommendations based on your tastes and preferences.

The Tasting Box contains 1.5-ounce sample vials of a variety of spirits and there's usually a different theme every three months, like "Mezcalistas" or "The Cognac Track." Meanwhile, the full-size bottles come from popular brands like Johnnie Walker and Glenlivet, as well as smaller distilleries like Journeyman.

Flaviar carries more than 20,000 different spirits, and they're all vetted by industry professionals and a "resident flavor magician."

Review of Flaviar

What it's like to use Flaviar, a boozy subscription service that lets me try small bottles of expensive liquor before I invest in a bigger size (2)

Connie Chen/Business Insider

I picked out my Tasting Box and bottle, which arrived safely and securely.

I didn't want to get just one type of spirit, so I opted for the Flaviar Awards 2020 Tasting Box, a "best of" collection as voted on by the Flaviar community. It contained English whiskey, Scotch whisky, brandy, rum, and mezcal. For my bottle, I went for a Glenrothes 12-Year-Old scotch. The Tasting Box I chose is no longer available, but there are a lot of other boxes themed around whiskey, gin, cognac, and more.

The site was laid out well, making it easy to browse all the different spirits and read through "specs," tasting notes, and reviews.

I loved the design of the at-home tasting experience, too.

What it's like to use Flaviar, a boozy subscription service that lets me try small bottles of expensive liquor before I invest in a bigger size (3)

Connie Chen/Business Insider

It was packaged nicely (Flaviar even included a coaster), and it encouraged me to actually sit down and take my time with each of the samples. The box included small cards with tasting notes (which the brand calls "Flavor Spirals"), and I had to try and match each one to an unlabeled sample.

I don't think I'm a spirits connoisseur just yet, but I thought the "Flavor Spirals" were spot-on and not too difficult to pair up with the corresponding samples. Still, it was fun to go into the process blindly and test my abilities to recognize flavors like the banana and honeycomb in the Larga Vida rum or the peach and blackberry in the . Since there was no packaging, I found myself focusing more on how each sample smelled and the sequence of different flavors that hit my tongue.

Though I did this by myself, I could see the tasting process being an excellent social activity to do with a friend or family member.

Ideally, the Tasting Box would help you further refine your tastes, as you explore and discover your likes and dislikes. Personally, I know I'm already a fan of rum and mezcal, but I'm hoping to become more knowledgeable about those spirits so I don't feel as lost the next time I'm shopping for myself or ordering at a bar.

Surprisingly, I didn't love the mezcal in the Tasting Box and actually found myself enjoying the other types of spirits more. With so many to choose from, it seemed like a shame not to take advantage of the variety. In the end, I think I'd need another round with the Tasting Box to further hone my preferences and then decide what full-size bottle to order.

Other perks of a Flaviar membership

Once you've enjoyed your spirits, the experience isn't over. You can also spend time reading member reviews, articles about different spirits, cocktail recipes, and interviews with industry experts. Some of the member reviews are particularly intensive, which will help you make a decision when you're stuck.

You can also buy individual bottles from the shop. Compared to other online stores, Flaviar's bottles are generally sold at retail price or a little cheaper. In some cases, like with this $400 Orphan Barrel Bourbon, Flaviar can be around $100 less expensive than competitors. Once a month, you'll receive free shipping credits, which can be used on one order of any size.

Meanwhile, for people who love rare and exclusive varieties, there's The Vault, which is open once a month and allows access to a private collection of spirits.

Finally, membership usually includes free distillery tours and events, but due to the pandemic, these are still on hold right now. In the meantime, Flaviar hosts online shows on its Instagram, where hosts interview bartenders, hold live tastings with a variety of guests, and put on virtual pub quizzes.

The bottom line

Flaviar is an accessible starting point and community for people who want to expand their knowledge of spirits, and it offers no shortage of member-exclusive features to dive into and explore.

Since it holds a large stock of spirits and resources all in one place, you won't need to juggle various forums, shops, and articles — instead, you'll find everything you need once you log in. For $300 a year, it's a bit pricey, but compared to the costs of doing all the work yourself and buying from more expensive competitors, Flaviar is definitely worth it.

Flaviar Annual Subscription

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Connie Chen

Connie Chen is a former senior reporter on the Insider Reviews team, where she led coverage of home textiles, home entertaining, and food and drink. While at Insider, she specialized in all the things that enhance life at home, from the most comfortable bed sheets and fluffy pillows to cool online wine clubs and bartender-approved cocktail shakers. She combined rigorous testing methods, conversations with professionals, and active knowledge of the home and kitchen space to help readers get the most out of their money. When she's not changing duvet covers or washing towels twice a day for articles, she loves talking about and trying the newest snacks, drinks, andfood gifts. You can see more of her testing process and other behind-the-scenes of being a product journalist on her Instagram @connayreviews. Connie joined Insider Reviews as an early member in 2017 and has also reported on products and services in the style, tech, fitness, travel, and e-learning spaces, with a particular interest and expertise in emerging startups. She has represented the team at CES and moderated panels on media business and the future of retail. Connie graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in media studies and business administration, which help inform her perspective on and coverage of industry trends, as well as the competitive e-commerce landscape at large. Read some of her work: The 4 best cocktail shakers in 2021 The 7 best women's bathrobes in 2021 The 5 best wine openers and corkscrews we tested in 2021 The 5 best bed sheets we tested in 2021 The 5 best cordless vacuums we tested in 2021 12 direct-to-consumer kitchen startups that are changing the way we shop for cookware and knives 8 tableware startups changing the way we shop for dishes Even chefs experience cooking burnout — here's how they get re-inspired in the kitchen How businesses create successful virtual experiences 50 cookbooks from famous restaurants across the US that will help you recreate their best dishes at home Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Learn more about how we test kitchen products.

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