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Gin has to be made with juniper berries (which are actually more of a fleshy cone seed), but from there, the ingredients can go in all sorts of directions. The possibilities are endless. Really. We’re talking everything from orris root to angelica root, almond to anise, and cassia bark to dragon eye fruit. Bitter orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit are all in play. So, too, are grains of paradise, nutmeg, saffron, baobab, cinnamon, and frankincense.
Throw in an ongoing gin renaissance that’s increasingly international and finding traction in surprising places such as Turkey and even India, and we have a classic spirit very suitable to a subscription service. With the right experts sleuthing and sharing compelling new expressions, the regularly delivered discoveries can be as wide-ranging as gin recipes. Read on for the best gin of the month clubs.
Best Overall: Mash&Grape MashBox
Why We Chose It: Interesting flavors from new, quality brands translate to constant discoveries and value for members.
Access to in-house marketplace
Exclusive bottle offers
National retailer network
Relationships with brands
Doesn’t distribute to 10 states
The foundational concept for MashBox was to capture the curated experience of Mash&Grape’s impressive spirits and wine market and automate it with regular shipments.
“We are in the middle of a distilling boom not seen in a hundred years, and are lucky to have new and amazing options to explore,” Mash&Grape’s mission statement reads, in part. “Making this exploration easier is our job and we scour the planet looking for products that excite and amaze us, so that we can share them with you.”
Testimonials reveal Mash&Grape’s audience is pleased with the results, which makes founder and CEO Adi Pal proud.
”Our customers like what they see and trust us to send them something awesome every month,” he says.
For the Gin Explorer box, the "something awesome" includes flavorful revelations like Desgin Gin, Cold River Gin, and Bitter Truth Pink Gin, at a modest $44 a month.
Mash&Grape’s search is aided by the fact that brands contact it for the e-commerce services of sister business Barcart, giving the company a built-in advantage on unearthing new producers.
Members receive tasting notes and “gin secrets” with each shipment. They also get access to Mash&Grape’s retail marketplace, and discounts on very limited spirits from partner distilleries.
Best Education: Taster’s Club Gin of the Month
Why We Chose It: Taster’s Club provides exciting new gin discoveries and comprehensive educational materials at a reasonable rate.
Solid value includes shipping
Members bottle shop
Hard to reach customer support
Taster’s Club announces upfront—“To us, appreciating gin is about more than just its taste”—and backs it up with its boxes, which include unique and extensive “Gin 101” course material. It covers a given month’s selection, production techniques, trends and history, plus topics like how to properly taste and evaluate a gin, different styles of gin, distilleries around the world, and gin production techniques.
The grade of gin that comes with those materials matters much, of course, and Taster’s comes through there too. Sample craft brands include Denning’s Point Distillery, Sipsmith London, and St. George Spirits.
Best Style: Flaviar Gin Club
Why We Chose It: Flaviar does gin with style and substance, delivering the most gins to try with a bundle of other extras to boot.
Four tastes per shipment
Free shipping on qualified orders
Live tasting events
Limited to quarterly shipments
It can be hard to know which bottles to order
It's Gin O'Clock. Ori-Gins. Gin Lane. So go the tempting themes with which Flaviar builds its gin tasting boxes: three dram-sized, 1.5-ounce samples paired with lively tasting notes, a coaster, and helpful tasting guides. Each quarter those tastings—which are perfect for a mini tasting party—are joined by a comely issue of Flaviar Times. A notable 750ml bottle of small-batch gin anchors the delivery, with brands like Funky Pump Gin, Citadelle Gin, Edinburgh Gin, and Wenneker Elder among those featured.
For $95 per month (or $300 per year, which includes a bonus bottle) subscribers also get monthly access to "The Vault," which offers the chance to acquire rarities made possible by Flaviar's partner producers. A strong roster of auxiliary elements—including tasting and blending events (live and online) and VIP distillery tours—are appealing factors too. Meanwhile, Flaviar’s “Boozefeed” online flow of spirits news, recipes, and history is a rich resource as well.
Members select a bottle from a gallery of spirits (including a wealth of non-gins), and while having control over the options is empowering, it can be hard to choose from unfamiliar bottles.
Whatever the case, it's a lot of fun built on the foundation of exploration. “Discovery and a diversity of flavor is a fundamental part of what we’re all about,” says CEO and co-Founder Grisa Soba.
Best for Craft: PlumpJack Gin Club
Why We Chose It: PlumpJack’s selection of gins jumps off the page. The rest of its package, with an emphasis on cocktail recipes, is solid too.
Limited to quarterly
For a modest $35 to $55 per quarter, PlumpJack is on the money with a pick from a sweeping variety of gins from all over the world—and all over the botanical flavor map. Having relationships with smart small-production operations is a clear strength from a glance at PlumpJack's gin inventory, where bottles including Nikka Coffey Gin, Wild Sardinia Gin, Freeland Gin, Bimini Barrel-Aged Gin, and Corgi Earl Grey Gin all appear. Bottles come with producer background intel and recipes specific to that gin.
One great example of PlumpJack's rare revelations: family-owned Gray Whale Gin, which is made from botanicals sprinkled along the California coast migrational path of the namesake cetacean, and sends part of its proceeds to support ocean health. Another surprising standout: Namgin Gin from Namibia.
Though he's heading toward retirement, Paul Birman has been the buyer at San Francisco-based PlumpJack for 20 years and, as a gin enthusiast, steered the Gin Club for at least a half-decade. Spirits Supervisor Sam Crocker believes Birman's approach to gins will continue to guide the club well into the future.
"We're always looking for unique gins that can stand up in a martini, which is how Sam likes to experience gin," Birman says. "He tries to find smaller producers with great stories." Mission accomplished.
PlumpJack and Flaviar provide worthy experiences by homing in on memorable small-batch gins and furnishing lots of relevant supporting materials—and Flaviar goes above and beyond with its tasting bundles of three additional gins. The only problem: Both limit shipments to every three months. Taster's Club is a rock-solid option with its own emphasis on education and monthly rhythm, but Mash&Grape gets the ultimate nod for its monthly consistency with superlative craft gins at a very modest price point.
What Is Gin?
Gin is a colorless alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavored with juniper berries and aromatics like caraway seeds, star anise, and citrus peels. It first debuted as a medicinal liquid made by monks and alchemists across Europe and evolved into a commodity in the spirits industry. Gin is frequently produced from a wide range of herbal inputs, giving rise to a number of distinct styles and brands.
What Does a Gin of the Month Club Include?
Typically, clubs include a bottle of gin mailed at regular intervals with tasting notes and background. Schedules and duration vary.
How Much Does a Gin of the Month Club Cost?
Gin of the month clubs start at $44 a month and generally don’t exceed $95 a shipment.
How We Chose the Best Gin of the Month Clubs
We researched clubs and spoke to independent and club-affiliated experts on what they offer to select our favorites. We considered diversity of offerings, curating philosophies, cost (and value), frequency, accompanying literature, and growth of membership. Education was also important and is a strength of each option on our list, notably Taster's Club. Flaviar’s club definitely provides the most samples per box and has a social and inviting vibe with its slick tasting bundle of three spirits. But in the end, the sheer amount of product research and revelations that Mash&Grape delivers won us over.