Grisa Soba was in the bathroom of a Seattle bar when he had the idea for Flaviar, a subscription service that provides clients with packs of sample alcohols. The inspiration was a bit of tired decor, an old black and white photo of a man sampling booze. Soba thought that the man's job didn't look half bad and, in 2012, founded his company with two friends. Their goal: Helping men try high-end spirits they might not otherwise get their hands on.
Soba says that tasting spirits helps drinkers broaden their horizons while giving them a good excuse to hang out with their friends. Every pack has a theme such as "Schnapps of the Alps" or "Whisky's Big in Japan" and consists of five carefully selected 45 milliliter samples. "Our selections are always made to show the range of a certain spirit, so that our members get to experience the wide palette of colors, flavors, and aromas that same type of spirit can have," Soba explains. Each pack also includes "General spirits tasting instructions" prepared by Flaviar curators that provide a bit of useful guidance. Because certain types of alcohol (read: whiskey) are perennially popular, the company also keeps pre-made tasting packs on hand while coming up with new variations for adventurous subscribers.
"People want to know what they are eating, drinking, and buying," says Soba, who hopes his customers also become better booze consumers. "We believe it is part of the bigger change that is happening." Consumers have learned to appreciate craft and authenticity and want to know the stories and people behind the products and high-end spirits come with stories. It will also help when the service begins working with curators, an effort Soba plans to kick off with a rum expert.
For serious drinkers, Flaviar will also begin offering a "School of Spirits" week-long online course. The idea is to further educate drinkers and get people excited about savoring carefully made products while also serving as a platform for smaller brands.
[Subscriptions begin at $40.99 a month; flaviar.com]