So, you like Gin or Whisky?
Well, that means you’re in the right place. We’re reviewing an Australian subscription service claiming to be “Australia’s first dedicated digital bar”.
Box Bar specialise in unique and interesting Gins and Whiskies, with an online shop and monthly subscription services.
In recent years, many distilleries have started offering online experiences making this quite a competitive space. So, let’s find out if Box Bar are worth subscribing to.
Box Bar Gin Tasting Subscription Review
Box Bar - Review Summary
Box Bar delivers 3x50ml tasting bottles of gin, helping you with a curated journey through different gins. Each gin is carefully selected and comes with a tonic and garnish pairing. Whilst the experience could do with a bit more polish and educational material, the gin itself is superb.
Ordering - Website - 7/10
Products - Quality & Experience - 8/10
Ordering - Delivery - 9/10
Value For Money - 8/10
- Try 3 different gins each month.
- One of the cheapest tasting boxes available.
- Each gin has a tonic and garnish paring.
- Limited information about how/why each gin should be enjoyed.
- Packaging is reasonably uninspired.
- Who are Box Bar?
- What do Box Bar offer?
- My Box Bar Gin Tasting Review Box
- How much does a Box Bar Gin Subscription Cost?
- My Overall Thoughts on Box Bar
- Alternatives to Box Bar
Who are Box Bar?
Box Bar was founded in 2020 following a grant from the City of Sydney that allowed the team behind The Fox Hole to convert their in-venue gin tasting experience into an at-home boxed experience, guided via Zoom.
The Fox Hole is based in Sydney’s CBD where they feature over 100 gins and 50+ whiskies. That’s the kind of range they bring across to share on Box Bar.
I like to share some details about the founding team and their credentials here, however for Box Bar these people are quite elusive.
Whilst I haven’t been to The Fox Hole myself, the reviews on Google are positive with an average 4.3/5 rating. A positive indicator that the people behind Box Bar know what they’re doing.
What do Box Bar offer?
Let’s explore what “Australia’s first dedicated digital bar” actually means.
Box Bar have a few different services and experiences split between their two primary spirits: Gin and Whisky.
- Tasting subscription (I’m testing this)
- 1, 3, 6 and 12 month lengths.
- Bottle subscription
- 1, 3, 6 and 12 month lengths.
- Tasting boxes
- Bottle store
- Tasting boxes
- Bottle store
You can see that their subscription service is currently gin-only but you can also buy one-off tasting boxes for both gin and whisky.
Box Bar will also run group experiences for 6 or more people either in-person (Sydney) or over Zoom. They’ll deliver all the products required and run the tasting live for your group.
There are some parts of the website where they imply they’ll run live tasting sessions along with the tasting boxes, but I can confirm these are instead video-on-demand experiences which you can watch whilst enjoying your drinks.
Lastly, Box Bar also offer cocktail boxes which allow you to create at-home experiences for an Aperol Spritz, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned and more. These make fantastic gifts.
What’s in the gin tasting subscription box?
I’m trialling the gin tasting box, which comes with 3 different gins every single month.
Each gin comes in a 50ml bottle (a dram) which is enough to try across two drinks. Every gin also comes with a mixer and a garnish.
The mixers can include traditional tonics through to more unusual mixers like soda and ginger ale. They are designed to match perfectly with the gin provided.
Anyone who enjoys gin cocktails knows that the garnish is a crucial part of the experience. Box Bar’s garnishes are generally a form of freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit, which makes sense logistically, but you may want to support that with a fresh garnish as well.
You won’t receive the same set of gins as everyone else that month. Instead, every subscriber follows a curated flow of gins following a theme each month. The themes for the first 9 months are made available on their website:
- The most diverse spirit in the world
- Taste exploration
- Three quarters of the glass
- Queen of the drink
- How’s gin made?
- What’s it made of?
- Old, new and strong
- Savoury, spice and everything nice
- The history of gin
How is it delivered?
Unlike most subscription services who send all their boxes out on the same day of the month, Box Bar send out their packages on the anniversary of your subscription.
Box Bar are able to deliver to anywhere in Australia. For Free. That’s quite rare and incredible value for anyone living in a regional area of Australia.
My Box Bar Gin Tasting Review Box
My box arrived packaged in a plan brown box without any branding. The only clue the box contained gin was the sender listed on the shipping label. I think the shipping box is part of the overall experience and normally prefer to see these branded.
Inside, we get a first look at how the gins are packaged with Box Bar. There are three individual cardboard sleeves, each one containing a 50ml bottle of gin alongside a tonic bottle and garnish. My box also included a set of “gin-troduction” cards and some coasters.
In Mid-2023, they made some changes to the packaging, most notably switching to plain cardboard inserts for each gin, and improving the quality of the “gin-troduction” cards.
Weirdly, each box also contained 7 packing peanuts to try and combat the fact the 3 cardboard sleeves were a bit smaller than the shipping box. If it works, it works I guess.
Below, you can see the 3 cardboard sleeves. There’s a great cut-out at the top displaying the gin itself, which is a cool feature. In contrast, the cut-out beneath that seems to have no purpose whatsoever apart from reducing the usable space in the sleeve. You aren’t able to see the tonic bottles without digging into the cardboard sleeve itself.
On the plus side, this does make the packaging fully recyclable!
Each gin has a small page within the leaflet explaining more information about the gin, with a couple of sentences about the history/profile along with the origin, botanicals and ABV. This information is quite light compared to other gin subscription services I’ve tried.
You’ll also get an email that provides a friendly introduction to each gin as well. James and the team at Box Bar are very responsive if you did have any further questions about anything you’ve received.
Was the gin enjoyable?
The first box contains (at the time of writing) three gins celebrating the different types of gin that are commonly distilled. I received:
- Kangaroo Island Wild Gin with Fevertee Indian Tonic & Dehydrated Apple
- Brockmans Premium Gin with Cascade Tonic & Freeze-Dried Raspberries
- Karu Lightning Gin with Capi Dry Tonic & Dried Pineapple
In comparison, my second box contained Ryan Reynolds’ old brand of Aviation Gin, Strange Omen Hopped Gin, and a Strawberry Gin from Poor Toms.
All of the gins I’ve tried were new to me and presented a good variety of different flavours.
I’m no gin sommelier, so I won’t try and vouch for the individual quality of each gin. However, I will say they were all very enjoyable and felt like a journey through very different gin profiles.
The garnishes added a great touch to the experience, particularly the freeze-dried raspberries which brought a very fruity note to the Brockmans gin.
How much tonic do you need?
One problem I often see is that services get lazy with their tonic selections. Not so much with Box Bar. I found the tonics very well paired with each gin.
You receive a variable amount of tonic, from 150ml to 250ml. This means that you’ll realistically be able to make a single drink, or 2 smaller tasting drinks from each gin-tonic pairing.
Most experts recommend having 1 part gin to 2-3 parts tonic, so there’s plenty of tonic following that recommendation. This experience might not be for you if you prefer tonic-heavy drinks with 4+ parts tonic to 1 part gin.
Interviews with distilleries
Box Bar also publish interviews with each gin distillery that feature in their discovery boxes. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the gin you’re trying and replaces detailed information cards.
The interviews themselves are interesting, but many of the videos I watched lacked details about why the pairing worked and the experience I should expect drinking their gin. With a discovery box, those should be the most important things discussed!
How much does a Box Bar Gin Subscription Cost?
A once-off tasting package will set you back $70 but this price drops significantly when you sign up for a subscription of any length.
|Subscription Length||Total Cost||Cost/Month|
On price alone, I would recommend subscribing to the ongoing subscription, so you retain the flexibility of skipping a month or cancelling your subscription. That convenience is probably worth an extra $60 over the full year.
However, the 12 Month subscription comes with a suite of added benefits that make it worthwhile. You’ll get access to regular calls from the Box Bar gin experts, access to invite-only events (presumably at The Fox Hole) and discounts on every purchase on Box Bar.
If you’re looking for a fantastic gift for a gin lover, or really enjoy trying new gins yourself, the 12-month subscription represents a good value option.
Is Box Bar’s gin tasting subscription good value?
One of the major downsides of alcohol subscriptions can be the additional cost created by the curation process. It can make the service very expensive compared to original liquor cost.
Whilst it’s impossible to make a fair comparison, I can compare the costs of the same volume of each product provided in my first delivery box. This shows us how much we are paying for the curation, extra variety and experience of these tasting boxes.
I’ve used an equivalent cost per ml from a 700ml bottle of each gin.
|Ingredient||Box Bar Cost||Product Cost|
|Brockmans Premium Gin (50ml)||Included||$5.70|
|Cascade Tonic Water (200ml)||Included||$0.75|
|Freeze Dried Raspberries||Included||$0.45|
|Kangaroo Island Wild Gin (50ml)||Included||$6.35|
|Fever-Tree Tonic Water (150ml)||Included||$1.45|
|Karu Lightning Gin (50ml)||Included||$5.70|
|Capi Dry Tonic (250ml)||Included||$2.00|
|Total||$50 – $60||$23.90|
You’re paying around double the RRP of each individual product to have:
- The ability to try different gins without buying an expensive full bottle.
- Have experts curate gins for you to try, with appropriate pairings.
- Delivered free to your door without lifting a finger.
It’s clear from our cost analysis that Box Bar isn’t for someone who just wants to buy lots of gin to drink. Instead, it’s for a more discerning customer who wants to expand their knowledge around gin.
What about Box Bars other service costs?
We’ve already explained that Box Bar offer far more than just a gin tasting subscription, so I wanted to share the rough costs of other services (at the time of writing):
- Gin Bottle Subscription: $89 – $99/month.
- Gin Tasting Boxes: $65 – $140 each.
- Gin Bottles: $75 – $120 each.
- Cocktail Boxes: $100 – $200 each.
- Whisky Boxes: $120 each.
- Whisky Bottles: $80 – 160 each.
You’ll also get a 5% discount on large bottles if you love a specific gin within your box.
My Overall Thoughts on Box Bar
Box Bar is clearly curated by people passionate about Gin, with a lot of experience understanding the history of gin in Australia. That’s proven by the gin selections, shop, distillery interviews and link to their Sydney bar.
You also definitely get the gin experience they promise. 3 gins with well-paired tonics and garnishes. I thoroughly enjoyed tasting my way through the Box Bar experience, and I’m sure many gin-lovers would feel the same way.
Unfortunately, I felt the overall experience is lacking that special touch. I’m not in love with the packaging and I don’t feel like the information about each pairing was detailed enough for me to learn anything new.
However, I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off subscribing to Box Bar based on this. They’re one of the cheapest Gin subscriptions available in Australia and they certainly deliver a great gin drinking experience.
Alternatives to Box Bar
With lots of different gin subscriptions available, it’s worth shopping around to find the service that’s most suitable for you. We’ve reviewed some other great services, with our favourites being:
- Liquor Loot – Another tasting subscription that sends 3 x 60ml bottles per month for an extra $5 subscription cost although you won’t get any garnishes. We love how polished and professional their boxes are. Read our Liquor Loot Gin Box review.
- Garden Street – If you want a full-sized bottle every month, you’ll need to pay out a little more with Garden Street Gin Club at $99 per box. Each box is beautifully packaged with included tonics and garnishes, which ensures their boxes make perfect gifts. Check out our review of Garden Street Gin.
I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with Box Bar – were they similar to mine? Did you find my Box Bar review useful? Let me know in the comments section below!