No, that’s not a typo in the header. It’s Wishky, a new whisky subscription service. There’s been a bit of a trend of these of late as the digital economy takes on traditional retailers. I actually use a coffee subscription service myself, Pact, so I do appreciate the model, the convenience, and potentially exploring a world of taste that you enjoy, but don’t necessarily have the time to immerse yourself in.
Wishky is run by Neil Butler. He sold his family business back in December last year, and wanted his next venture to be based around something that he enjoyed. Neil was also wary – like many of us – that the price point of whisky was getting ever higher. “Gin is fine to send out a full bottle each month,” he told me, “even if you don’t like the gin you could always put it with a larger measure of tonic. It’s also not as pricy so less of a risk. Whisky as you know is different. I wanted to help people try before they buy.” So he came up with the Wishky subscription service.
What’s different about Wishky though is that each sample is in a (very nice) little bottle with a label featuring a unique number. So that means instead of the label of the whisky, you can choose to blind taste the sample first and find out later what it is from the little cards that feature tasting notes. There’s also a neat little collectable among the cards. I have to say, the packaging and design for this is very nice indeed. It feels like you’re getting something special, and substantial too.
Neil explained that, like other whisky subscription service, with Wishky they want to introduce people to the good stuff. So what was in this one?
The whisky was varied and interesting. In the quartet box, which Neil kindly sent over, it wasn’t so much a Scotch tasting set as a world whisky set, with Aberlour 12 Year Old, Amrut Fusion, Bushmills Black Bush, John B. Stetson bourbon. That’s a varied, decent selection for the price – and they’re broadly interesting. I can imagine if you’re exploring whisky that selection will give you a lot to think about. Each whisky comes with a little information card that explains the ABV, type, nose, palate and finish. The back of those cards double up as playing cards, so presumably over time you can collect 52 of these!
Pricing depends on whether you go for the trio box or the quartet box. The trio is around £24-25, and the quartet £33-34. For four whiskies to sample, I think those prices are reasonable because you’d pay far more in a bar for those whiskies in double measures, and these are being sent to you at home – so there’s postage in that as well. You can later score the whiskies online, and there’s an introduce-a-friend offer on top of that.
It’s best to try to imagine the customer experience for these sorts of things, so I think some reasonably priced drams, sent to you to taste blind, in a very attractively packaged box, is very decent indeed. Who’s it for? I suspect newcomers and those exploring as next steps will find much to enjoy with the format. Would more experienced drinkers enjoy this? Perhaps, though I tend to think whisky veterans look at £34 a month and think, ‘That’s half a bottle of something’, so a trickier customer to please.