Finding the right subscription box can be tricky. It’s not just what they send you, but how much and how often. Price and packaging come into it too. What does it take to get the overall experience just right?
Subscription boxes are nothing new. You can get them for almost anything these days. Chocolate, socks, make up, dog treats. Some of the most popular ones are for booze. As a nation we increasingly like to drink at home, and subscribing to a monthly box is a great, low-effort way of getting hold of drinks that are more interesting than those you can typically find at the supermarket.
I’ve had a beer subscription box for years now, and recently decided I wanted to branch out into exploring more spirits too. What’s put me off doing that in the past is that it takes me a long time to get through a full size bottle. Plus there’s the expense too — they might work out at a decent price per serving but it’s still a fair whack to pay up front especially compared to beer. And if like me you know at least half the bottle will still be there a year later, slowly losing its flavour, that up front investment looks less appealing.
But rejoice, we have the internet now. Online gin clubs offering smaller bottles might be the ideal solution. The biggest of these in the UK seems to be the Craft Gin Club, but they send full size bottles — not what I’m after right now. So instead I went for Little Gin Box who send out a much more manageable amount. For £10 subscribers receive two 50cl samples each month from small artisan distillers based in the UK, with the aim of never sending you the same gin twice.
In my first box I received one bottle of Biggar Gin Original Recipe (43% ABV) and one of Newton House Gin (43.2% ABV). Both of these are London dry gins. The Biggar is flavoured with juniper, coriander, rosehip, rowan berry, nettle, pink peppercorn, cassia, cardamom, lavender, fresh orange peel, and fresh lemon peel. The Newton House has juniper, almonds, liquorice, angelica and coriander seeds, grapefruit, lemon, bergamot, orange, peaches, mint, and blueberries.
The gins themselves have been good but I found the first box a little underwhelming. The packaging is rather utilitarian and fun-free. It turns out that what I want from these boxes — beyond the actual gin — is the feeling that I’ve ordered myself a treat; a fun adult indulgence. I need a bit more pizzazz, I guess. Something that feels more like a dash of sophistication and less like cost-efficient self-administered alcohol at home.
You can sign up with the Little Gin Box for three, six or 12 months or you can opt for a rolling subscription instead. I did the latter. I’ll probably let it run for another month or two at most and then move on elsewhere to a box with a touch more panache. And perhaps one that supplies nice tonics too.