The 5 Best Whiskey Subscriptions of 2020

Pour your way to whiskey mastery

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Our Top Picks

No matter which way you spell it, Whisk(e)y is a world of its own with so much to explore. It’s a vast category that spans the globe, its styles varying from place to place, and getting to know any one of them requires more than just reading up on the subject. Tasting, of course, is key. While you could technically head to any liquor store and buy a few different bottles to try, there’s a bit more fun in having something curated and sent to you on a regular basis. From themed boxes of tasting vials to full-sized bottles hand-selected by experts and delivered to your doorstep, we gathered the top whiskey subscriptions.

Flaviar: Best Overall

Flaviar

Flaviar

Flaviar is perhaps the most widely known and regarded name in spirits subscriptions, and for good reason––this is the whiskey-focused club that has it all, from your choice of a top-shelf bottle each quarter to personalized tasters, plus a breadth of information and insight around your selection.

Inside the quarterly tasting box you’ll find three, 1.5-ounce échantillon vials (respective to your selected spirit category) along with the accompanying materials, and between shipments, you can enjoy member perks like virtual events, access to exclusive and rare bottlings, educational experiences, and more. Both members and non-members can order full bottles from the online shop, though the former enjoy free shipping.

You can try Flaviar out for one quarter, which comes out to about $32 monthly, or you can go for the whole year and snag a discount (this equals about $25 per month). When joining, you’ll be prompted to choose your favorite spirit categories and brands, after which you’ll select your "desert island drink," and that’s about it for the legwork.

Then, you’ll then be taken to the checkout page, where you’ll pay upfront for your membership (shipping is included). Flaviar is one of the few spirits delivery services that caters to both U.S. and international members, so that’s a big plus if you’re hoping to order from outside the country or send a gift overseas. Members can also cancel at any time sans penalty.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society: Best for Scotch Lovers

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Calling all Scotch nerds: With more than 30,000 members, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is the ultimate membership experience for aficionados and experts alike. Founded in Scotland in 1983, these guys are sharing their personal findings from the motherland with the world through online and in-person tasting events, bottles, and more.

This club is generally much more education-driven than it is product-heavy, as the tasting element is not quite as automated as it can be with other services. If you select just the membership option (sans bottle), it’s roughly $99 annually, but you can bundle it with one of the featured exclusive bottles for a generously discounted price. If you do want to receive a curated bottle every month, there is a "Bottle of the Month" feature, but you’ll have to call the team to find out more and set it up.

Either way, you’ll never be bored—Scotch Malt Whisky Society releases anywhere from 20 to 30 different single cask whiskeys each month, and you’ll have access to buy anything you’d like or talk shop with the vast network of members and experts. There are no shipping fees associated with the membership itself, as it’s all delivered virtually.

But if you’re ordering bottles (which you can only do as a member, otherwise you can taste at a participating bar), you’ll have to pay shipping and tax based on your location. Currently, Scotch Malt Whisky Society memberships are set to automatically renew at about $70 annually and cancellations are penalty-free.

Mash&Grape’s Mashbox Club: Best Monthly

Mash&Grape

Mash&Grape

Online spirits shop Mash&Grape makes it fun and easy to discover spirits from around the world on a monthly basis. On the whiskey front, it has three different subscription options covering Bourbon, Scotch, and a broader mix of world whiskeys (including the aforementioned).

The Scotch membership costs roughly $79 each month, while the other two are about $69 monthly; you can choose from finite formats ranging from three months to a year, which can either be prepaid or charged monthly. Or, you can opt for the "ongoing" option, which has no end date until you decide to cancel (this is billed monthly). From there, the Mash&Grape team will select a fun, full-sized bottle from its roster of craft distillers and send it out to you along with detailed tasting notes and the story behind the spirit.

Mash&Grape’s subscription boxes are shipped around the 15th of any given month, and if you’re interested in gifting any one of these memberships, you can do so by selecting the gift option during the club selection process (you can even send a customizable postcard to your recipient). And, should you wish to pad your curated monthly deliveries with some choices of your own, you can always browse the shop tab to explore all spirits and wines, pick up some barware, and more.

Caskers: Best Top-Shelf

Caskers

Caskers

Online spirits and cocktail shop Caskers positions its subscriptions as "your personal whiskey concierge" (though technically speaking, so are all of these services).

The site’s club page offers a choice of two different subscriptions: The American Whiskey Club, which clocks in at approximately $147 per quarter, and The World of Whiskey Club (around $167 per quarter). Naturally, the former includes domestic whiskeys, while the latter’s broader focus is on a more international experience (think Japanese whisky, single malt and blended Scotch, Irish whiskey, and the like).

Both clubs deliver two full-sized bottles of premium whiskey to members every three months, and with them a custom tasting card, instructions for proper tasting, and more. Each bottle is selected by the experts behind Caskers, who take special care not to repeat any bottles—you can also expect to see a healthy balance between cult favorites, timeless classics, and craft gems.

On top of the deliveries, members also enjoy VIP access to the website’s new bottles, rare finds, and other special offerings before non-members. If you wish to opt out of any shipment, you can do so without penalty; it’s also easy to gift either membership for a six-month period or a full year.

And last but not least, there is a separate Concierge feature that provides personal support to members in finding rare and hard-to-find bottles across various spirit categories (not just whiskey), and Caskers can also help with sourcing private casks and bottlings (price varies). Just note that Caskers is only able to ship to select states across the country.

Taster’s Club: Best for Building Your Bar

Taster’s Club

Taster’s Club

With nine different subscriptions to choose from (and a convenient gifting option for all of them), Taster’s Club is a neatly packaged window to the world of spirits based on your tastes and budget.

Through its three different whiskey clubs, you can build your collection bottle by bottle as a member of the Bourbon, Scotch, or general Whiskey subscription (starting at about $69, $79, and $69 per month, respectively). Taster’s Club is pretty forthcoming about its pricing with no cancellation fees or other hidden charges, though they do charge for shipping (roughly $15 per order), which is something to consider.

Both the Bourbon and Whiskey formats come in one standard base option, while the Scotch membership offers a premium upgrade at approximately $184 monthly plus shipping—this upgraded membership gets you access to rare and hard-to-find bottles every month. Regardless of which membership or level you choose, each box comes armed with a wealth of information on the bottle and category-spanning tasting notes and tips, distillery information, production methods, and more.

Your membership can be canceled without penalty at any point.

How We Chose the Best Whiskey Subscriptions

As you might already know, shipping alcohol between states (or from outside of the U.S.) can be tricky because of intricate liquor laws across the country. After looking through dozens of websites and reviews, these subscription services were chosen carefully for their accessibility, variety of product offerings, price points, and general philosophy.

Flaviar earned our title for best overall for its range of top-shelf bottles and breadth of information to help you on your whiskey journey. If you're looking to stack your bar, Taster's Club is ideal with its nine different subscriptions to choose from, while Mash&Grape is perfect if you're looking for monthly deliveries.

That aside, the market is certainly becoming more and more saturated with at-home experiences these days—think virtual wine tastings, culinary programming, and delivery services of all kinds—so choosing the best of the best came down to personal experience and assessment of the balance between the standard offerings any service should offer, like reasonable (or free) shipping, regular delivery, cancellation freedom, and the like. Because, like drinking anything spirited, balance is key.

What Are Whiskey Subscriptions?

A whiskey subscription service offers members regular comprehensive deliveries of their preferred spirit subcategory, such as American whiskey, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, or a combination thereof. Generally, these monthly or quarterly deliveries come in a curated box format complete with either sample or full-sized bottles, lots of information surrounding the spirit(s), and sometimes fun add-ons like cocktail accessories and the like.

How Much Do Whiskey Subscriptions Cost?

The cost of a subscription such as this depends on the service and whether or not the fees cover shipping (this is often an additional cost), along with the frequency of deliveries, pertinent discounts for prepaid memberships, promotions, add-ons, spirits quality level, and more.

On the lower end of this list, you’re looking at around $25 monthly for sample-sized monthly shipments (shipping included), and on the other end of the spectrum, around $184 per month plus shipping for a premium Scotch whisky club.

Which Types of Whiskey Are Included in a Subscription?

This depends entirely on your tastes. If you love Bourbon, you can join a Bourbon-only club. Should you wish to expand your global whiskey palate, you can do so by signing up for a subscription service that offers a combination of world whiskeys, such as Irish whiskey, American whiskey, Scotch whisky, Japanese whisky, etc. The moral of the story: Find what best suits your needs from all angles and give it a shot.

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