These are interesting times indeed in the gin subscription service market. Of the five services that launched in 2016, Tipple Box and microbarbax have already long since dropped their spirit and gin clubs (although both still offer their original cocktail clubs). And, as Gin Explorer prepare to call time on their miniature subscription service next month, Master of Malt have just announced their brand new Dram Club. Things appear more stable at the full-sized end of the market with Craft Gin Club, launched in January 2015, still going strong. But the competition there is clearly heating up too, especially with One Time Gin preparing to take on everyone else with a variety of bottle sizes when they relaunch later this year.
With so many services to choose from, which is the right subscription for you? Firstly, it’s likely to come down to budget and, after that, your preference for one large or more smaller bottles of gin. The miniature boxes are clearly cheaper, but it’s worth pointing out that, at about £5 per 50ml, that doesn’t actually equate to better value for money. But obviously not everyone can stretch to £35 a month (or more) for a larger 700ml bottle. And then’s there’s all the extras to consider too… So here it is, your handy guide to the best of the subscription offers currently out there.
The budget one… Little Gin Box
Launched in June 2016, Little Gin Box is the smallest box in both size and cost. Little Gin Boxes contain two different 50ml samples, and tasting notes, for just £10 per month. In addition to this, recurring membership customers receive one £10 discount code every three months to purchase a full-sized bottle of their favourite gin from the site, which is a nice touch. Budget doesn’t mean basic though; with previous gins including East London Liquor Gin, Kokoro Gin and The Lakes Gin, you can rest assured you’ll be receiving some of the best booze out there.
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The one with the mixers… I Love Gin
If you fancy trying new tonics as well as new gins, you’ll want to check out I Love Gin who offer two 50ml bottles of gin (from the portfolio of one distillery) as well as two mixers chosen to perfectly complement the gin for an affordable £14 a month. The addition of the full-size tonic bottles does make the whole box a little bigger and bulkier than some of its competitors’ but, as most of these boxes won’t fit through your letterbox anyway, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference to anyone except your postman! Previous boxes have included Tarquin’s Gin and JJ Whitley Gin, and mixers such as Fentimans and Merchant’s Heart. It is worth noting, though, that on the occasions when a distillery only produces one gin, you might receive two identical miniatures in a box, such as with X-Gin.
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The one that fits through your letterbox… The Gin Box
There are few things more annoying than missing a gin delivery, or, worse still, finding the contents smashed to smithereens. Now you can avoid both hazards by signing up to 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. The slimline box measures only 9cm x 2.5cm x 25cm and contains two sachets of gin as well as smart and informative gin profile cards. What the sachets may lack in aesthetic appeal, they more than make up for in convenience and also in eco-credentials with the lighter boxes (weighing approx. 140g) having a considerably lower carbon footprint than their heavier counterparts. Previous boxes have included Two Birds Cocktail Gin, Rock Rose and Warner Edwards.
The newest one… Dram Club
Launching in June 2017, Master of Malt have also entered the subscription service with their new Dram Club. Every month, members will receive a set of five 30ml samples of gin (or whisky or rum, if you prefer) along with tasting cards for £24.95 per month. New members are also promised two crystal tasting glasses with their first delivery and with June’s line-up including Helsinki Dry Gin, Anno 60² Gin, Japanese Gin, Lighthouse Gin and Ginraw Gastronomic Gin, this certainly looks very interesting indeed.
The original one… Craft Gin Club
Craft Gin Club is the original gin subscription service, having launched way back in January 2015. Offering monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly deliveries, members receive one bottle of small batch gin (usually 700ml), GINNED! Magazine and a selection of treats to complement the gin for £40 a month. Previous gins of the month have included Scotland’s Navy Strength NB Gin, Germany’s Windspiel Premium Dry Gin, Tarquin‘s Limited Edition Rosemary & Thyme Gin from Cornwall and The West Winds Gin all the way from Australia. This is certainly a safe bet and you know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Read my full review here. Sign up here and enter code GINPALS15 for £15 off your first box (following registration you will need to provide my email address – email@example.com – to validate your discount code).
The one to watch… One Time Gin
With their first gin distilled on the stroke of midnight on 1st January 2017, One Time Gin launched as the UK’s only limited-edition gin subscription club. The first lucky few to sign up received one full-size bottle of outstanding limited-edition gin, mixers, One Time Press, and the ingredients to make OTG’s ‘Cocktail of the Month’. However, One Time Gin are currently taking a break before relaunching with an even greater choice of pricing and volume options, which should also include a taster-sized 50ml bottle of gin with one bottle of tonic, and a 350ml bottle of gin with enough tonics, mixers and cocktail ingredients for two people in addition to their original full-sized package with pairings for four. Past releases include Victory Gin, 58 Gin and Manchester Gin, so the signs are good for this one.
*One Time Gin relaunched in October 2017 with three different sized packages: the Dinky package featuring a 350ml bottle of gin with mixers and cocktail ingredients for two; the Full Size including a 700ml bottle of gin and mixers and ingredients for four; and the mighty Magnum package boasting a massive 1.5litre bottle of gin and mixers and cocktail ingredients for eight!
The no frills one… The Juniper Club
If you don’t fancy paying extra for magazines, mixers and munchies then The Juniper Club could be the one for you. Like its rivals, The Juniper Club promises to send one 700ml bottle of craft gin to members on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis (with no minimum terms of subscription). For £35 a month, members receive ‘Just Gin’; nothing more, nothing less. But with previous gins including Wight Mermaids Gin and Avva Gin, there’s no need to suffer from any FOMO.
The spirited one… The Spirits Society
If you don’t want to restrict yourself to just gin or really rum, then take a look at The Spirits Society. Like similar models, you can expect to receive a full-sized bottle of spirits along with a few other bits and pieces but you don’t have to restrict yourself to any particular spirit. Here you can pick your subscription length and then select how many gins, whiskies, rums or vodkas you want to receive over that time. Or, select the ‘Spirit Surprise’ to receive a bottle of anything, from gin and whisky, to cachaça and mescal for £40 a month.
The one to ponder… Think Gin Club
Think Gin Club offer a similar package to Craft Gin Club but with more of a focus on cocktail-making. Unlike One Time Gin and The Spirits Society, you don’t receive the ingredients to make a cocktail but, for £40 a box, you will receive a mixology tool – such as a jigger, mixing spoon or rather nice branded copa glass – in addition to a full-size bottle of craft gin, paired mixers and snacks. Think Gin Club don’t promise any limited edition gins but, with previous boxes including Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin from Australia, Glendalough’s Wild Botanical Gin from County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland and the Isle of Wight’s Mermaids Gin, this is certainly worth some serious thought.
The best of both worlds one… Flavourly
Perhaps better known as a craft beer subscription service, Flavourly.com have recently added a Gin Discovery box to their line-up. Unlike all of their competitors, Flavourly offer their subscribers three 200ml bottles of craft gin, in addition to mixers and snacks and in-house drinks magazine for £34.99 a month. Unlike One Time Gin and, to some extent, Craft Gin Club, Flavourly don’t promise to supply limited-edition gins but they are clearly working with some great distilleries. This box also offers a pretty perfect balance between the tiny miniatures that disappear all too fast, and the risk of a great big bottle of gin that isn’t quite your cup of tea. If you really can’t make up your mind, this could just be the best of both worlds.