The Flaviar Review – A Whisky Club for Explorers!

I was pretty excited to try Flaviar. It’s been on my list of “things to try” for a few years now. So getting to review it and check out what all the fuss is about was pretty rewarding. Especially because *full disclosure* I loved it!

Flaviar is exactly what I imagined a whisky club should be. It’s the chance to really branch out and explore new spirits. And it’s the access to tons of new and exciting options tailored to your taste. All without being too overwhelming. Flaviar is specifically created for you to explore different liquors and experience more than you might have access to at your local bar.

Don’t go into Flaviar thinking you’re going to snag the latest deal or buy bargain bottles for cheap. It ain’t gonna happen. The prices are roughly equivalent to the retail price (sometimes a little more or less), so you won’t find deals.

But if you love to explore and want the chance to find new whiskeys and spirits that are tailored to your palate without spending hours researching, Flaviar is the whisky club for you!

A Flaviar Review…in Review

flaviar review

  • “A club for spirit enthusiasts”
  • Sign up using a survey of alcohol types and brands
  • Ships personalized Tasting Samples and a Complimentary Bottle each quarter
  • You can order more bottles or tasting boxes through their site

Pros of Flaviar

  • Curated tasting samples
  • Complimentary bottle once a quarter
  • Options to buy additional tastings or bottles
  • Free shipping once per month

Cons of Flaviar

  • Only ships quarterly, not monthly
  • Cannot skip a quarter
  • Could be considered pricey
  • Not all tasting samples are available as full bottles

About Flaviar

flaviar membership

Flaviar bills itself as a chance to “disrupt the pattern” and “help people try new things more often.” It is a club for those who wish to explore and experience new spirits. As Flaviar says, they “lead the speakeasy movement of the modern-day.” So it’s a chance to try something other than Jack Daniels or Wild Turkey.

They opened in 2012 and have been expanding and improving their membership benefits since then. But the club is not the only part of Flaviar’s offerings.

Flaviar also organizes live tasting events, free to members, around the United States. They run a spirit shop online where you can order all sorts of spirits close to the retail price. Flaviar also has its own bottling arm with both Hercules Mulligan (rum and rye) and a Deer, Bear, & Moose segment. The DBM title only goes on bottles that Flaviar deems “rare, mysterious, and elusive.” (I can’t personally comment on either of these as I haven’t tried them yet.)

As anyone who has ever googled a question about whisky might know, Flaviar also runs a whisky blog. Their articles that cover all sorts of questions you might have about spirits and includes detailed information on types of whisky, individual distilleries, even tasting notes on specific bottles.

What do you get with a Flaviar Membership?

Assuming you aren’t just logging in to Flaviar to read their blog articles, let’s take a closer look at what you actually receive in a Flaviar membership.

  • 1 Tasting Box Per Quarter
  • 1 Full-Sized Bottle Per Quarter
  • 1 Order with Free Shipping (Resets every month)
  • Free Tasting Events
  • Member Discounts at their shop, including spirits and their own Hercules Mulligan brand
  • Access to unique spirits from around the world (The Vault and DBM)

You can also create your own home bar on their page to keep track of all the bottles you own. (As if us whisky-lovers needed help with that!) And they have an active BoozeFeed that loads with the newest reviews, deals, and updates on their site.

Signing Up for Flaviar

Signing up for Flaviar is quite easy and fun. (I suppose clubs always want to make it easy and fun for you to sign up.) You have the choice of signing up for a full year or just one quarter. You do need to input your email address before you start. This means if you stop half-way through they still have your email to send you news and offers.

But once you provide your email, you are asked to select as many types of spirits as you are interested in: bourbon, brandy, scotch, whiskey, gin, tequila, etc. Then you select all the brands you’ve tried. (And it is a huge list of brands.) But while it seems excessive, it’s all to help you narrow down your palate.

The final step is to select the one bottle from all brands you’ve tried that you absolutely could not live without! Choose wisely…

*For the sake of this review I stated I was most interested in scotch and whiskey and selected Lagavulin 16 as the bottle I couldn’t live without.*

From there you are taken to a payment page to input your information. After you verify your email address you are free to select your tasting box and start hunting for whisky! Remember, you get 1 tasting box and 1 full bottle a quarter, so look there first!

The Tasting Sample Options

Flaviar offers around 40 different tasting box options that are updated constantly for exciting new sets. These tasting boxes include whisky and other spirits. So members have a very hard decision in front of them!

However, your Flaviar account will recommend certain tasting boxes to you based on your flavor profile that you’ve created. It gets better and more tailored with each box you taste and rate.

My offerings included mostly scotches and a few American whiskies and bourbons.  We chose “A Tale of Three Whiskies” for a very simple reason. My father has been hunting for Penderyn Welsh Whisky everywhere. He absolutely loves it and only has one bottle left. It’s just something you can’t seem to get in South Texas. When I saw Penderyn listed in one of the tasting boxes, I had to try it. The goal? To hopefully purchase a full bottle of Penderyn as a surprise for my father after our taste test!

Even better, A Tale of Three Whiskies came with a Japanese whisky, which we love. And a Belgian whisky. (Did you know Belgium made whisky?! Because I didn’t! Obviously we needed to try it.)

The Bottle Options

Flaviar also offers more full bottle options than I can count in a day. Which might make picking a new bottle seem just as difficult as browsing a liquor store. But again, Flaviar recommends top bottles to you based on what you’ve said you like best! That means you actually don’t have to scroll for hours, you can just scroll through a few tailored options and choose.

Of course, if you want to scroll for hours, Flaviar has that option too. Because of my selection of the peated scotch Lagavulin as my top bottle, Flaviar’s suggestions stayed around scotches, specifically Islay and other smoky drams.

We opted for Highland Park 12. It’s one of my mom’s favorite scotches, but since the formula changed she’s been hesitant to try a new bottle. Vasiliy and I decided to take one for the team and give it a shot (since it came with the membership.)

Spoiler Alert: It’s good. Let’s hope there’s still some left when mom comes to visit us!

Payment Options and Pricing

You have two payment options: one quarter or one year. You must select one before you can begin the sign-up process.

One quarter simply means you pay for each quarter as they come up. It’s a slightly more expensive option. But it’s perfect if you want to give a gift, or don’t want to commit to a full year.

  • Quarterly Price: $95 one-time payment (amounts to $31.67 a month)

One year means you pay for the full year all at once, so you automatically sign up to receive all four shipments. (You choose your tasting boxes and bottles at each quarter.) Doing it this way is more expensive as a one-time payment. But it does get you a slight discount per month. (And they throw in some extra samples as well!)

  • Yearly Price: $300 one-time payment (amounts to $25 a month)

The Box Arrives!

My first box was shipped about 6 days after my selection. I was told it would take about 3-5 business days to arrive…it arrived in 2!

*Note: Flaviar recommends you ship the box to your office because you do need to be home for the delivery since it is alcohol. So someone over 21 needs to be available to receive and sign for it.*

The box was extremely well-packaged, and surprisingly light. (It fit in a Fresh Direct bag that I could carry with one hand.) Once opened, you could see the care that was taken in packaging everything.  The tasting bottles were carefully wrapped in their own little cardboard container surrounded by foam, bubble wrap, and cardboard. And Flaviar included a branded ceramic coaster, carefully wrapped, in the box as well.

The bottle of Highland Park was completely covered in bubble wrap, then placed inside its own box! There’s no way this stuff was going to break, even on an NYC street!

The Taste Test

We had a real blast taste testing “A Tale of Three Whiskies.” Flaviar makes your taste test a guessing game as well. Each vial only shows a letter: A, B, or C. But they include corresponding flavor cards that tell you what each letter means. Remember, you aren’t supposed to look at those until after your test. They also include sticky labels that you can use to mark the vials yourself once you’ve tasted and identified. From what I’ve heard, future tasting vials will be fully labeled from the start, but I haven’t received a second box yet so I can’t confirm.

We cheated and looked at our flavor cards beforehand. Each card is clearly labeled with the vial letter, the name of the whiskey, where it was from, and what tasting notes are typically found. But we still did our own taste test with color-coded1 sticky notes, just for fun!

Penderyn – Welsh Whisky, Madeira Finish, 46% ABV

Penderyn

We both thought the Penderyn nose was full of intense candy notes, particularly those fruity Banana Wonka Runts candies.  Adding water you can note a bit of spice and caramel. The palate was full of that same sweet candy, caramel, coconut flavor, with just a hint of chili peppers from the Madeira.

Gouden Carolus – Belgian Single Malt Whisky, 46% ABV

Gouden Carolus

We disagreed on the nose here. I noticed spice, orange, milk chocolate, and wood, like Christmas. But Vasiliy thought it smelled like summer wine: peaches, apples, pears, and stone fruit.

The initial palate matched our individual noses. But when we added water strong notes of beer hops came through for both of us. By the time the glass had sat with some water for a few minutes, all I could taste was beer.  Turns out, Gouden Carolus is a very old beer distillery. Their single malt is made from their beer mash, and finished in a special beer cask as well! Definitely a novelty we’d be interested in purchasing.

Ohishi – Japanese Whisky, Islay Cask, 42.8% ABV

Ohishi whiskey

Surprisingly our least favorite. We both normally love Japanese whisky and this was finished in an Islay cask – our favorite scotch. But we both found this dram very shallow, with only faint hints of wood, peat, pear, smoke, and chocolate. Without water all I could taste was alcohol and paint thinner. With water, some subtler notes came out, but not enough to win me over.

Our Rank:

  1. Gouden Carolus
  2. Penderyn
  3. Ohishi

What did I like?

The Concept

A whisky club entirely tailored to helping you find new spirits that match your palate?! With free events and unique bottles for purchase?! Sign me up! (Literally and figuratively.)

The Smaller Tasting

I love to drink as much as the next person. But, if you saw my FirstLeaf Review, you know that 6 full bottles in one month is way too much for me. I like to taste different options and understand what the differences are. But I only want to commit to a whole bottle of something I really enjoy. Flaviar does just that!

The Events

If you’re a real whisky aficionado, there are tons of events and special tastings and special bottles that Flaviar gives its members access to. I wish I’d had the time to take advantage of more of these. But your membership is also very satisfactory even if you stay away from these entirely.

What did I not like?

The Limited Shipping Ability

Flaviar currently doesn’t ship to 23 U.S. states and several provinces. This is remarkably limiting, but they say they are working on expanding. But the current limitations make it hard to purchase Flaviar as a gift for anyone in those states.

Per their website: “At the moment we ship to all European Union (EU) countries and the United States, with the exception of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

The Website

Was a little confusing? And I know it’s not just because I’m blonde. Finding clear answers to questions was a little difficult. Looking for F.A.Q was particularly difficult. And I felt like some of their “About Us” segments were written as marketing pieces rather than actually imparting useful information. (Trying to figure out what Hercules Mulligan was required me to go to an entirely separate site!) But it wasn’t confusing enough to stop me from exploring and purchasing!

FAQ’s About Flaviar

Would Flaviar make a good gift?

Yes! A Flaviar subscription would make a fantastic gift! hint hint If you’ve got a whisky, rum, or gin lover in your life, especially one who likes to try new spirits, Flaviar is an exceptionally thoughtful present. You can do a full year. (How generous of you!) Or you can do a single quarter. They sell gift cards on their website.

How do I cancel Flaviar?

Flaviar allows you to cancel any time. Simply navigate to your membership page (My Flaviar >> Membership) and cancel your account using the link at the bottom.

Do you have to be a member to buy bottles?

No! You can add bottles to your cart and make purchases without being a member. Membership does give you access to discounts, unique bottles and tasting boxes. (And one free bottle a quarter!) But you can still purchase full bottles and tasting boxes through Flaviar without a membership.

What’s the Final Recommendation on Flaviar?

My final recommendation has to be: do it! We had so much fun holding a mini tasting session in our own apartment and discovering new bottles. If you love hunting for new spirits and exploring your taste palate, you’ll love Flaviar. If I had the extra cash this year, I would absolutely stick with it. There are numerous options both for tasting boxes and for

If you are relatively new to scotch and whiskey, you’ll love learning all about different spirit options in a specially curated taste test. This makes it much easier to find your palate and bottles you actually enjoy without spending hours browsing the internet. (Or $16 dollars at a bar each time you want to taste test something.)

If you already know a lot about scotch and whiskey, there’s still plenty to gain from Flaviar through their events, available bottles, and unique tasting boxes. You’re bound to find something you haven’t had before. And who wants to pass up a free tasting event?!

And if you want to branch out from scotch and whiskey you can dive into Flaviar’s world of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and cognac.

Recommended Reads:

Image Credits

This post includes screenshots and images taken by author in January 2020

Kathryn Loveless

Kathryn Loveless is a freelance writer for hire who delights in all things delectable. You can find her perfecting a roast chicken recipe, hunting down a new bottle of scotch, or hosting a wine and cheese soirée somewhere in New York. My passion for Scotch started in college when my conniving parents gave me their best whisky for my "first taste." Needless to say, the stuff my friends had at school didn't compare. They had a joke "If Kathryn comes to a party, you need a whiskey that's over $40." My first job in NYC was hosting several fine-dining establishments where I learned everything I could from bartenders and mixologists. Now that I work in writing and development full-time, I continue my education in classes around the city and explore the newest whiskeys on the market. (Still trying to find a bottle of Compass Box No Name if you have any leads...) Newest in my collection: Compass Box Peat Monster and Port Charlotte Islay Single Malt (I love peat if you can't tell.) Most interesting thing on the market right now: Japanese whisky! (No "e" since much of the trade was learned in Scotland.)