With the boom in gin showing no sign of abating, the number of subscription services continues to grow. There is now a wealth of choice in the miniatures market with five companies, including Gin Explorer and Little Gin Box, launching in 2016. Until recently though the Craft Gin Club, launched in January 2015, was the only gin subscription service offering full size bottles delivered to your doorstep. Now The Juniper Club is squaring up to them.
Lisa Plummer, a fellow gin lover, founded The Juniper Club following a long held desire to work in a field about which she was passionate. She says: “I wanted to take the effort out of folk finding and tasting all these fantastic new craft gins that are coming online: we do the travel and the investigating; members sit back, relax and wait for the latest surprise to arrive!”
The Juniper Club, like its rivals, promises to send one bottle of craft gin to members on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis (with no minimum terms of subscription). Also, like the Craft Gin Club, The Juniper Club don’t release details of their ‘Gin of the Month’ prior to delivery, considering the excitement and surprise element as a fundamental part of being a member. Realistically, of course, this is also to prevent members cancelling an order if they already own that month’s offering!
The clue to The Juniper Club’s USP is in their hashtag #JustGin. While some of their competitors include tonic water and mixers, snacks and condiments and, in the case of the Craft Gin Club, a glossy magazine in their boxes, The Juniper Club offer just gin. I received their inaugural October delivery: the packing is substantial but rather underwhelming and I might hesitate to send it as a gift. However, the plain, unbranded, cardboard box is a distinct advantage to anyone planning to receive their box at work or buying it as a gift for someone who lives with them. Furthermore the inflatable airsacs in which the bottles are placed are incredibly robust, reducing the risk of breakage, as well as the cost and, in turn, the carbon footprint of delivery. Better still, the airsac is 100% recyclable (though The Juniper Club would do well to remind their members of this, as it is not terribly obvious at a casual glance). Inside was a bottle of gin and a couple of business cards. Nothing else. Just Gin.
But what a gin. I was delighted to open my box to find a 70cl bottle of Wight Mermaids Gin; a gin I enjoyed sampling at Junipalooza but one which I didn’t already have in my collection and is not widely available on the high street. Shortly after delivery, members then receive an email from The Juniper Club with further information regarding the gin and tasting notes, which are useful (albeit rather brief).
At £35 including postage and packing (and £5 off the first month’s subscription using the discount code below) The Juniper Club is very competitive and offers good value for money. Gift subscriptions are also available offering slightly better value for money and include a card which can be sent either to the purchaser or direct to the lucky recipient. Craft Gin Club charge £40 for the same size bottle of gin; their goodies are usually well worth the additional £5 (the retail value of the items in their box is usually in the £50 range) but only if you value them. Personally I appreciate the mixers, especially when they are chosen to complement the gin, but I could take or leave the snacks (I wasn’t blown away by the sweets, popcorn and seaweed thins I received with competitors’ boxes). The miniature boxes average at about £5 per 5cl, which equates to £70 for 70cl; a cost most people would balk at (though of course you only actually pay between £10 and £28.50 per box).
Obviously, it’s impossible to know which gins The Juniper Club will offer in future but with Wight Mermaids Gin retailing at £35.95 plus delivery from Master of Malt and 31Dover, this still looks like a good deal (as long as you like the surprise element). What Craft Gin Club have succeeded in providing their members is a number of exclusive limited editions gins unavailable elsewhere; only time will tell if this is something The Juniper Club can also set their sights on. But in the meantime The Juniper Club is undoubtedly the best value for money in the gin subscription market, just as long as you’re content with just gin. And, frankly, who isn’t?!
Join The Juniper Club here. Enter discount code SM5 for £5 off your first month’s subscription. Find out more about The Juniper Club at pod 311 at The Epicurean, October 28th-29th, The Old Truman Brewery, London.
With thanks to The Juniper Club for sending me their October Gin of the Month to review.