One of the things that I enjoy, and thus will be writing about is good liquor. To be honest, the majority of my imbibing in the past has been of the mixed drink variety. It’s the typical avenue for most people out there who want to enjoy liquor but don’t want to deal with the harshness or base taste of the liquor. Put something else in the drink to make it a little more palatable and pass me the glass!
I’ve wanted to broaden my knowledge of liquors for quite some time, and yes, I do occasionally partake of something “neat,” but it’s rare and what would be a good liquor to drink by itself? A friend of mine was a single malt whiskey lover and had quite the collection. He enjoyed his single malts and, to my knowledge, never used them in a mixed drink. Always neat.
If you are going to walk into a bar, you should have an idea of what you may like to drink. Am I going to have a mixed drink or something solo? Do I want the solo liquor neat or straight up? Some liquors are not distilled for solo enjoyment, most of what the bartender has behind the bar, for regular pours, are downright awful by themselves. But what they have on display behind the bar may be just as bad solo as what they use for a regular pour. How do you know what liquor you might like to drink solo? You can spend quite a bit of cash and get seriously drunk visiting the local bar and sampling what’s on the shelf.
Now there are alternatives to this thanks to the internet and some forward-thinking individuals, enter the alcohol subscription box. Now there are companies that offer alcohol subscription boxes for you to try different types of liquors. The majority of these offerings are of the mixed drink variety though; you get a monthly box with a quality liquor or two, the appropriate mixers and additional ingredients to put together a mixed drink from the recipe provided. I tried one of these subscription services for a few months but was not satisfied with what I received; I was going in a different direction.
Then I came across Flaviar. Flaviar is a quarterly membership that provides you one tasting box per quarter and free shipping on one bottle per month. Their membership is not cheap at $60 a quarter and from what I found this was a recent change in their membership structure; it used to be $40 a month, and you received five sample bottles in the box instead of three. The sample bottles are 1.5 oz each, so you get a large pour per bottle essentially. More on this a little later. There are other perks though; they have the free shipping per month for a single bottle purchase or if you purchase one of the other sample packs, and I liked the amount of information found on the website and in the sample packs.
My introductory “Welcome Box” contained three different whiskeys, bourbon, rye, and scotch.
The bottles were labeled A-C so that you could conduct a blind taste test, but since we were dealing with three different types of whiskeys it didn’t matter to me. There was a lift up tab at the top of the cylinder with a clay coaster on the very top and under that three paper coasters with the name of the distillery on one side and a tasting spiral on the other. The lift up tab had links on one side for how to taste spirits and how to organize a tasting with a link on the other for more details about the particular tasting box.
Gina and I set up our little taste test on the kitchen table.
Previously I had mentioned the size of the samples, 1.5 oz. For me, splitting this with Gina was enough liquor to get a good taste and evaluate the liquor. So off we go!
The first sample from the box was the Breckenridge Bourbon from the Breckenridge Distillery in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. They bill themselves as “The World’s Highest Distillery,” and this particular bourbon is one of their best sellers.
Both of us being rather new to the practice of taste testing liquor, we referred to the enclosed tasting spiral frequently to see if we could distinctly taste the individual flavors.
This bourbon was smooth for me and had a nice vanilla and honey taste to it. I completely missed some of the other flavors called out on the card though which shows that I need to do this a little more often to train my nose and tongue to discern these different smells and flavors. We both felt that this had a sweet finish, although not over the top so. This bourbon would be pleasant for an after-dinner drink as well as just something to sip when sitting around and relaxing.
Next, we tried the Rye Whiskey from Few distillery of Evanston, Illinois.
I’m not a big fan of rye whiskey so right away this one started out challenged. This one did not feel good on the tongue for me, a little too tingly and the hint of rye flavor and pepper took it down a further notch. As mentioned above, I missed out on quite a few of the other flavors called out on the tasting spiral which may have made this a little more pleasant for me. Gina liked this one, she likes rye whiskey, but it was not an overwhelming favorite for her either.
Finally, we moved to the Mahir Bay Single Malt Scotch from Kilchoman distillery on the island of Islay in Scotland.
Right away this scotch hits you with its smoky nose and flavor. I could smell it before I even held it up to my nose; I love smokey flavors, so we are off to a good start with this scotch. The smokey taste coupled with the peaty taste made this a new flavor for me and a pleasant one. I also picked up a little of the vanilla flavor in this while Gina picked out the white chocolate. This scotch has a pleasant sweet finish as well, but the smokey flavor held on to the very end.
Of the three the Machir Bay was by far my favorite and one that I would probably purchase. Overall we enjoyed the challenge of the tasting and trying to discern the different smells and flavors.
I’m going to keep the membership in place; I think the value is there with their selection of samplers, the information on the website available to members only, and the opportunity to get unusual liquors that may not be available at your local liquor store. If you are looking for an online discount liquor store, this is not the place. Their prices are similar to what you would pay for the same product at other online retailers; the difference is usually made up by the monthly free shipping for a single bottle. I like the idea of being able to try a liquor before I buy it and trying it in comparison to others of a similar type. It’s also a fun way to learn about the various distilleries around the world from large distilleries to small craft types and the products they make.
I plan on doing a monthly feature of a sampler from Flaviar please subscribe, so you don’t miss the next installment; I need the additional training. I also need to get some better glasses for tasting.
Also, I apologize for the quality of some of the photos; I am still learning the nuances of photography for blogging.