There's a million and one subscription clubs worth trying—shop around and you’ll almost certainly discover a club that suits your tastes
Drinking habits have gone through huge changes in recent times. It’s not that long ago that, for many people, alcohol was mainly enjoyed at the local pub with a “glass of the usual”—the punter’s preferred drink from a very limited choice lined up on the bar—but these days, drinking at home has become much more the norm.
And whether we’re at home or queuing up at the bar we also seek a far greater variety in what we consume than we ever did before.
The pandemic increased this demand for home drinking and savvy drinks brands were quick to open up home delivery services, seeking to persuade drinkers to widen their range of boozy options yet further.
As a result, one market that showed a surge in popularity was drinks subscription clubs, often with some sort of additional tasting experience thrown in. Subscription clubs along these lines have been around for a while but have rapidly expanded from a handful of providers to such an overwhelming range of choices that deciding on which one to plump for can take a fair bit of thought.
To give you an idea of some of the options available we’ve picked out five of our favourites below, but before you take the plunge there are a few considerations you should be aware of.
These include paying attention to delivery costs, which aren’t always included in the overall price; the company’s cancellation policy, should you decide that it’s not right for you; frequency of delivery and if this is something you can change; and whether the range of drinks is wide enough to suit your tastes.
Some clubs are tied to drinks brands that are only able to dip into their own suppliers, whereas some of the more bespoke, independent clubs are likely to charge more to secure exclusive products. Shop around and you’ll almost certainly discover a club that suits your tastes, allowing you to explore a whole new way of enjoying drinks from your own home.
The Online Wine Tasting Club (From £23.99 per month including postage)
If wine is your thing then tasting a range of them in the same sitting can be prohibitive – you’re inevitably left with too many unfinished expensive bottles of wine lying around. Tasting clubs are able to navigate this by serving up smaller measures and, with The Online Wine Tasting Club, they’re bundled together in innovative eco packs that can be popped through your letterbox.
Each month club members get to work their way through six wines accompanied by a tasting show, which they can join in live or watch in their own time later. The wine is top notch and the online tasting sessions are fun and educational, bringing the world of wine right into your living room and telling the stories behind each serving.
Members get to choose whether they receive the Discover pack, aimed at entry-level drinkers, or Adventurer for the more advanced wine buff, with the six 100ml samples being ample for you to share with a partner.
BeerBods (£24 every 8 weeks including delivery)
BeerBods began life as a tasting club in a shed before moving to the internet in 2012, making it the UKs first beer subscription club. Its success is largely down to the social aspect of sharing beers, often with the brewers that make them, every Thursday evening at 9pm.
Members get sent eight beers every two months and will receive notification of which beer to drink for the coming week, along with plenty of info on the beer, and they’re invited to interact with other members through various social media channels. Alternatively, enjoy the beers at your leisure—the quality is high, they’re always different, and they contain a mix of new brews and classic favourites. Waiting until a Thursday comes round is often the biggest challenge.
Craft Gin Club (£40 per month including delivery)
If you’ve already joined the gin craze then there’s a good chance you’ll be aware of the Craft Gin Club. Having successfully pitched on Dragon’s Den the business has gone from strength to strength and now boasts a huge membership of gin fans enjoying the packages of gins, tonics, cocktail ingredients and snacks that arrive every month.
Each delivery contains a full-sized bottle of gin, along with the extras, that help you to explore it with tonic or in a range of cocktails detailed within an informative 66-page club magazine.
At £40 it’s great value—the contents are often worth upwards of £55—and it will expand your appreciation of gin with every serve.
The Cocktail Society (£40 per month including delivery)
If you want to try totally new flavours every month then The Cocktail Society could well be the club for you. For starters, each box contains a 500ml bottled cocktail expertly created by expert mixologists (Smoked Old Fashioned, Passionfruit Martini and Coconut & Kafir Lime Daiquiri are just three of the cocktails to have wowed their members) which you can stick in the fridge and dip into whenever the mood strikes.
You’ll also get ingredients and instructions to make your own cocktails, along with snacks and numerous other cans and bottles of cocktail samples, surprises and a cocktail magazine.
The service offers a degree of personalisation, or you can trust the team to get on with it. Either way, you’ll be introduced to some great new products, treated to some amazing new flavours and polish up on your cocktail making skills in the process.
The Really Good Whisky Company Cask Explorers Club (£19.99 + delivery)
Whisky is perfectly suited to the tasting club model—you can fit a good measure in a small bottle and one of the main pleasures of the spirit is to sip slowly and explore the subtly shifting aromas and flavours of each dram.
The Really Good Whisky Company is a busy specialist retailer, so the team behind it are packed with knowledge and well stocked with a huge array of whiskies. The twist to their Cask Explorers Club is that the tasting is done blind with the product names of the four drams revealed at the end of an online tasting.
The videos are lively and full of fun debate, with members encouraged to join in via an online chat forum while the whiskies cover the full spectrum of styles and flavours.
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