As our enthusiasm for gin soars, so too does the range of gin subscription services on offer. Last year, I reviewed no fewer than five miniature gin services that had been launched in the first half of 2016. And, in the last six months, there has been similar growth in the number of companies offering full-size bottles. But all these services have one thing in common. Yes, they deliver gin to your doorstep but that’s also where they all stop. If you’re not in, your box of ginny delights will, hopefully, be delivered to a trustworthy neighbour or, less ideally, returned to your local sorting office. Until now. Now there is a gin subscription service that will make it through your letterbox. And if, like me, you receive a lot of gin at home, that can only be good news!
The Gin Box Shop‘s origins lie, rather romantically, in a little old horsebox. In 2012, the said box was converted into a rather quaint mobile gin bar which its owners, James Spencer and Alastair Harlow, took to private events and festivals. Off the back of their customers’, and the more widespread, enthusiasm for quality gins, James and Alastair set up their website in 2014 to “provide a simple channel for people to purchase great gin”. Then, in 2016, they decided to take on the gin subscription market with a concept that is so simple you can’t help but wonder why no one has done it before.
Ok, there is one, fairly obvious, reason why no one has done it before. There is no escaping the fact that there is something (almost) inherently wrong about gin being delivered in transparent plastic sachets. They do, I’m afraid, look a bit like they are ready to be hooked up to an IV line and, much as I like to joke about Mothers’ Ruin, this is a bit close to the bone (or, should I say, vein?) even for me!
But, this is also incredibly smart, so bear with me. There is little more annoying than missing a gin delivery (I should know; this happens to me a lot). And there is little worse than opening up a long-awaited parcel to find the contents smashed to smithereens (this has also happened to me but, thankfully, far less frequently). And this is what is so clever about The Gin Box Shop’s subscription service. For about £12 a month, you are guaranteed two 50ml samples of craft gin delivered through your door. Not to your door, but through your door. So this is ultra-convenient.
But it’s also eco-friendly. As with most subscription services, all the packaging (cardboard/glass/airsacs) is recyclable (though the sachets are not widely so) but, because these boxes are so much lighter (approx 140g – packaged glass bottles could easily weigh twice that) and aren’t going to be doubling back and forth from the depot, their carbon footprint is lower too. So you can feel good on two counts.
And the gin is unlikely to disappoint either. Obviously, there is no way of knowing what gin you can expect to receive in a subscription service, but these boxes can also be purchased individually and, based on their current (and growing) range – including NB, Daffy’s, Geranium and Sibling Gin – I reckon you’re in for a treat.
The plain sachets don’t have the same aesthetic appeal as the branded miniatures that some of The Gin Box Shop’s rivals offer, but the packaging is actually pretty neat and I would happily send this as a gift. The slimline box measures only 9cm x 2.5cm x 25cm and contains the two sachets as well as two gin profile cards and one information/ratings sheet. The sachets simply state the name of the gin within and its ABV but the smart little profile cards include an image of the full-size bottle (so you can recognise it in your local bar/shop) and detail a bit about the gin, its taste and the botanicals, as well as a serving suggestion. There is also a clever little “predominance in flavour” colour code graphic on each profile card, which is decoded on the information sheet, to assist in your tasting. These are both intelligently done and look good too.
At £12.95 a month (or marginally less if you pay quarterly, half-yearly or yearly) this is slightly more expensive than some of its competitors, which are normally closer to £5 per 50ml, but it’s a price arguably worth paying for a guaranteed gin delivery and no knocking on the neighbours’ doors or queuing at the post office. The sachets are also a little fiddly to open, and certainly won’t look great lined up on your shelves, but I quickly got the hang of opening them without any spillages and they didn’t hang around long enough to be admired either!
If you’re rarely at home, or don’t have an office address, this is a great solution to your gin-subscription woes (#firstworldproblems!). It would, however, be great to see The Gin Box Shop add a little note to our postmen and women to let them know their boxes fit through letterboxes (as Hotel Chocolat do), as my first delivery actually ended up being hand-delivered. But, luckily, I was out for the second delivery. And that’s something I never thought I’d say!
Join The Gin Box Shop subscription service here.
With thanks to The Gin Box Shop for sending me two sample boxes to review.
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