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In 1494, King James IV of Scotland sent a note in Latin to a Tironensian monk living at the Lindores Abbey in Fife. “To Brother John Cor," it read, “by the order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.”
And so goes the first written evidence of whisky, then known as aqua vitae, being produced from malted barley.
Flash forward five centuries and the descendants of Friar John’s creation enjoy far-reaching popularity, production in countries worldwide, and expansive expressions. Scotch’s combination of proud heritage, niche small-batch bottlings, and depth of flavor profiles, meanwhile, make it a prime candidate for subscription services. Read our roundup of the best scotch of the month clubs.
Best Overall: Flaviar
Why We Chose It: Flaviar has figured out the most ideal box format for spirits clubs, and it works for scotch as well as it does for any other liquor.
Depth of tastes in each box
Amount of complementary resources
Relationships with producers
Style of communication
Access to rare finds
Flaviar could qualify for this list on packaging alone. The presentation that comes with each new fifth of craft Scotch is that slick, which makes receiving the box that much more fun (at $95 per quarter or $300 per year). Thematically grouped, 1.5-ounce tasting bottles come in a columnar caddy with a detachable ceramic coaster and tasting notes that correspond to the mini-bottles that are labeled by letter to encourage identification contests (which is great for social sampling). An impressive new print edition of Flaviar Times is included. A range of resources like tastings, tours, online content, and access to rare vault offers (like Ardbeg 1974 Connoisseurs Choice) round things out.
But plenty of substance accompanies this style. The scotch options are very good—note the Son of a Peat blended malt and Dear, Bear & Moose whisky available for members only—plus the educational details are solid, and shipping is included.
CEO and co-founder Grisa Soba points to Flaviar operations in both the U.S. and European Union as key to meeting its mission of introducing lesser-known spirits categories and brands to its members, including Chapter 7 Whisky that Flaviar introduced to the American market.
“Flaviar has a strong and special relationship with Scotch Whisky producers,” he says. “Both well-known brands and lesser-known rising stars.”
Best for Customer Service: Aries Fine Wine & Spirits
Why We Chose It: Family-run and classy as they come, Aries has a DNA that is unmistakable: Take care of the customer. That translates into a thoughtful and personalized subscription experience.
Obsession with customer service
Longevity in the industry
May be hard to scale
While Aries doesn’t feature a fancy website and shiny packaging, it has two attributes that harmonize with scotch's old-school identity: staying power and personal attention.
This Enoteca-style wine and spirits shop in White Plains, New York, opened its doors in 1984. Its scotch clubs—both the beginner ($79.99 per month) and advanced ($149.99 per month)—evolved organically from one of those basic beliefs: Give the customer what they want, as owner-operator Tony Russo insists.
“It’s all about customer service, isn’t it?” Russo says. “The further we get away from it, the more you realize how important it is: doing something for someone and have them get excited about it and enjoy it. It’s a lost art.”
When it comes to scotch, both subscription options prioritize value and craftsmanship, with Aries staffer Andre Kot describing the latter as “more challenging and complicated.”
With either box, Aries communicates with members to tailor bottles to their taste. Kot stocks each box with a tasting glass (two for the advanced option), regional and flavor maps, extensive tasting notes, and background.
“It adds to the experience of the club members,” Kot says. “We want them to enjoy what they get, explore, and advance their horizons.”
Best Versatility: Pour More
Why We Chose It: The value is undeniable and is a great way to introduce yourself or a gift recipient to the subscription approach without breaking the bank. Meanwhile, tiered memberships await devotees.
Add-on options for gift-givers
Membership tiers that range in price
Not much information about what specific whisky will be delivered
There's no need to overthink things here. Each month’s delivery brings with it a 750-milliliter bottle of scotch that explores the span of old-school and newer styles, a description of the whisky, and a cocktail recipe, for a reasonable $55 per month. Members can up the ante and go for the Explorer ($89 per month) or Enthusiast ($149 per month), which promises higher-grade and harder-to-find options. With each tier, bottles come monthly or bimonthly. You can save money on your subscription by paying for three, six, or 12 months upfront. Shipments come with background on each scotch and a recipe, with optional gifts and special promotions from partner producers.
Co-owner Scott Cohen and his team’s relationships with small producers and distribution partners are the key to curating quality scotch with each installment. “What’s most fun for us is customer feedback telling us they’re loving the variety and the education,” he says. “There are a lot of fun different areas to explore when it comes to scotch, and even small geographic differences in where they come from can make a big difference in the tasting experience.”
Best for Hardcore Scotch Nerds: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Why We Chose It: Scotch brings strong flavor and elicits strong opinions. When it comes to clubs that celebrate it, it’s hard to say that anyone comes stronger in rare sourcing or enthusiasm for the spirit than this society.
Unapologetic nerd love for scotch
Access to Vaults Collection
Private, members-only rooms
Yearly membership requirement
Monthly cost variation
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) started in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh in 1983—well before liquor subscription services became a thing—and has grown to count more than 30,000 Scotch whisky fans from South Carolina to South Korea. Founder Pip Hills drew the inspiration from a 1970s quest to a rural Scottish Highlands distillery where the family craftsmen blew his mind with handmade scotch poured in the back of a dark warehouse direct from the cask. He bought the barrel, shared it with his friends, and an idea started to ferment.
Many of the best scotch clubs use a model that works for all spirits and apply it to the category. Not so with SMWS, which obsesses over one focus: "To uncover the finest single malt whisky in the world…[and] enjoy it together.”
There is a threshold to join the Bottle of the Month Club, which hints at the altitude at which these aficionados operate: You must first become an SMWS member ($99 per year) to receive scotch straight from the cask ($90–$200 per bottle).
A nice little bonus: The 12th bottle of the year comes with a complimentary second one of 750 milliliters.
Other worthy extras are in play, including virtual tastings, access to rare finds and Members’ Rooms in several cities, ample online educational resources, and a members-only subscription to award-winning Unfiltered Magazine.
Best Basics: Taster’s Club
Why We Chose It: Taster’s is a textbook subscription service. Multiple tiers? Check. Savvy curating? Yup. Good education materials? Very much so. Gift-giving friendly? One hundred percent.
Commitment to education
Quality bottle shop
Hard to reach a live person
Empowering is not the most common tasting descriptor, but it applies here because a major strength of Taster’s Club is its commitment to elevating understanding of the storied spirit. This happens in two ways: by shipping hard-to-get bottles that generate curiosity and discovery, and a detailed “Scotch 101” curriculum with typical basics like flavor profiles and tasting notes. It also includes information on how to best evaluate a scotch, expert reviews, distilleries, regions, production techniques, and more.
Each shipment is a surprise for members of the Scotch Club ($94 per month) or the Scotch Pro Club ($199 per month), which ups the rarity index. Past brands speak to the pedigree: Deanston Highland Single Malt, Isle of Arran, and less-common Tullibardine among them. Shipping is included in both club options.
The number and variety of scotch subscriptions give whisky drinkers a host of options—and that's a good thing. Flaviar earns high scores (as it does in many other spirits categories) for its comprehensive combination of liquids and extras, with the only persistent mystery being whether it will switch from quarterly to monthly. And it’s hard not to love the healthy scotch infatuation of the 30,000-member Scotch Malt Whisky Society and the variety of rarities that make that obsession delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Scotch?
Scotch is a category of whisky so named because it has been distilled and aged in Scotland. As opposed to bourbon whiskey (note the spelling difference—domestic whiskey gets the “e”), which is made primarily of corn and is often sweeter, scotch is made mostly from malted barley. It must be aged at least three years in oak barrels. Its trademark tasting essences of smoke, wood, rubber, and leather are more intense than many whiskey flavors, which makes scotch at times an acquired taste and often a whisky aficionado’s ideal option.
What Does a Scotch of the Month Club Include?
Inclusions vary, but most clubs feature a full-sized bottle of whisky paired with literature about the producer and the scotch’s particular expression. Clubs often provide access to limited-production scotches and other online and print resources.
How Much Does a Scotch of the Month Club Cost?
Clubs generally charge per month, ranging from about $50 up to $200, depending on the frequency and types of bottles you are getting. Some clubs offer different levels of membership, so participants can gauge investment accordingly.
How We Chose the Best Scotch of the Month Clubs
We evaluated scotch of the month clubs based on expert interviews, customer reviews, price, variety, box composition, and presentation. Aries Fine Wine & Spirits offers stellar customer service, for example, while Pour More gained a spot on our list partly due to its wide variety of subscription options.