Review – Flaviar Tasting Sets
I’ve long been of the opinion that one of the most significant barriers to people exploring spirits more is the quite understandable fear that they might not like what they buy. With wines and beers the financial investment in an untried bottle is able to be much smaller than most for most spirits. Even with wines ranging wildly in price, it is entirely possible to explore perfectly enjoyable bottles for under a tenner a pop. With even the best value decent entry-level spirits coming in at twice that, it’s easy to stick with what you know. And so companies such as Flaviar, which offer the opportunity to try out a range of spirits in smaller samples are welcome diversifications to the industry.
Flaviar works on a subscription basis, with members receiving 5x 50ml samples of spirits each month, grouped into themes such as “Star Spangled Bourbon” or as I tried “There Can Be Only One – Highlander”. Smartly packaged, with accompanying tasting notes and interesting quips, the balance between professional, educational and fun is successful. At £25 per pack, it’s a relatively affordable way to minimise risk and explore a range of spirits, although of course the markup compared with buying full-sized bottles is higher.
Dalmore Vintage 2000
Nose: Deep and woody with sweet bourbon just about peeking through. Semi-dried figs, diesel, dried orange zest, cinnamon and ginger are all smoked and offer a fascinating complexity.
Neat: Oily and sooty with a bitter finish, this is no easy-drinking whisky. Dark fruits are largely hidden by heavier tobacco and woody tannins.
Glen Garioch 1797 Founder Reserve
Nose: Slightly musky, mossy and more than a little reminiscent of wet clay. Tinned prunes combine with banana-flavoured foam sweets, delicate pine and a distinctive white chocolate aroma. It’s all a bit strange.
Neat: Fleeting butterscotch is rapidly overtaken by overbearing bone dry wood, shortly followed by a little cinnamon spice and a smoky tannic finish. Green fruit skins and stewed apples are present if looked for but overpowered by the wood.
Nose: Immensely fruity and full of apricots, peaches and just the right amount of spice and a whisper of smoke.
Neat: Very honeyed in character with vanilla, coconut and almond to boot. With syrupy tropical fruit and a big mouthfeel, this is a superb nightcap.
Nose: Honey, apple, sherry, a touch of undefined floral notes, and strangely, oil.
Neat: The unusual aroma continues onto the taste, with the oiliness unbalancing the moderately sweet honey character. A touch salty and sour with hints at fermenting raisins, unroasted hazelnuts and most pleasingly some sherry-soaked fruit.
Old Pulteney 2000 Flotilla
Nose: Aniseed and diesel are an unusual combination delivering mixed success. Combined with burnt hazelnuts, aromatic pear and a touch of citrus, it’s certainly different.
Neat: A more restrained palate is more approachable than the nose, but less interesting with it. Perhaps best described as a moderately sweet and slightly spicy middle-of-the-road highland whisky.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.