SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE THE GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
So here we are, it’s nearly Christmas and people are starting to shop and wonder what to get for their loved ones. I’ve been looking into giving subscriptions.
I’ll be honest I’m not a Christmas person, I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. It leaves me feeling a bit baffled if I’m quite honest. People put themselves under an awful lot of pressure for it and I’m down with that sort of things. It’s easy for me as I don’t have kids and I just refuse to turn myself inside out for other adults. We’re all grown up and if you can match a cool present to the right person and you want to do that? Great. But if you’re tight for cash, mind yourself. The best present you can give others is that of your time and company.
For me this year, I’m buying for less people because I don’t think love is calculated in presents but I’m doing probably more research than I have in the past. As I keep writing about Irish food, I delve deeper and deeper and there are so many amazing options but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to subscribe on subscription gifts.
What are subscription gifts and how do they work?
Subscription gifts are simple. Depending on the terms you select, and of course on your budget, they are regular gifts that are normally sent on a monthly basis to the lucky recipient. They tend to start at a minimum of 3 months and will normally last up to 12 months. Some are rolling with no particular end date though, so make sure you read carefully before you sign up.
Where I can I like giving an experience, something that engage the senses and I am a food person so I’m going to try and feed you and give you something I think you will love again and again. But I’m also interested in learning about what I love or simply in experiencing more of it and I think most of the people around me are similar. And this is why this year I’m looking at subscription gifts.
Ever since I started writing about Christmas presents (so probably a good 5 or 6 years by now), I have mentioned the Sheridan’s Cheese Club. This is probably because as far as I’m concerned, it’s the Holy Grail of all presents. I love my family, my friends, my cats and I love cheese.
The Sheridan’s Cheese Club starts at one month but is meant to be a monthly affair. You can subscribe for 1 month, 3, 6, 9 or 12 months (can you hear the angel’s trumpets?). Every month, Kevin Sheridan will select four or five cheeses. He chooses them depending on seasonality or even maybe a theme (country of origin). You can expect unusual and rare cheese along with tasting notes on each cheese.
The Indie Cheese Club is Northern Ireland based and seems very flexible with subscriptions for one month, two months, three months, six months, nine months and twelve months. Knowing Laura Anne Bradley, I can only guess you would get a truly delicious regular package in your letter box. Just shut up and take my money.
Mark Murphy is the recognisable and much loved face behind the Little Cheese Shop in Dingle, Co. Kerry, and he, too, offers a top notch monthly option. Spoiler alert: You can add wine to your selection. Find out more about their monthly subscription on their website.
Smoked Salmon Subscription
Well known to Irish Food lovers nationwide, Birgitta Hedin-Curtin is the founder of the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna. “The Love Of Cold Smoked Salmon” is a monthly subscription of her award-winning product. The minimum subscription is for 3 months and the smoked salmon can be delivered in most destinations worldwide.
There appears to be the whole lot of four subscription services for chocolate in Ireland but one of them appears to be very corporate and isn’t good fit for this particular article. One by Bean & Goose is well established and has been running for a few years now while Anna Coffey has just launched Braw’s Chocolate Club, with Erik Van Der Veken hot on her heels with his Arcane Chocolate Subscription. All three offer monthly options and more with the promise of new and exciting combinations. All three offer skill, imagination, and superb service.
There are few nicer things than a monthly delivery of delicious chocolate, made locally with premium ingredients. Sign me up!
Of these, there are a few and unfortunately for you who have to pick, they all seem of top quality. But choice is good and may you choose wisely. A wine subscription could be paired nicely with a cheese subscription and would make for a lot of fun… just saying. Each of these subscriptions have different options so make sure to take your time. I know which one tickles my fancy but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Box Of Wine have developed a unique algorithm which picks the ideal wines for you based on your answers to a set of questions. I like that you can try it and cancel it at any time. I tried it for myself as I saw a pal recommending it over on Instagram (looking at you Carol) and I enjoyed the process and the wine.
The Twelve Wine Club is a 12-month wine subscription service, designed by Fergus O’Halloran, GM and sommelier, to stimulate and develop your palate and broaden your wine experience, with a specially selected bottle delivered monthly complete with tasting notes. A 12-month subscription to The Twelve Wine Club is €320 and includes two wine glasses from West, making it a generous and stylish gift for the adventurous wine explorer in your life.
Wines Direct explain that if you join the Wine Explorers Club, you will get 6 exclusive wines delivered to your door every month. Every month, 6 carefully curated bottles will appear; each with its own tasting notes, food pairings and information about the winemaker. Even better, twice a year (June & December) you get a Free Upgrade to your case worth €20. No box contains duplicates and wines only reappear, within a 12 month period, when a new vintage has arrived for you to savour.
Wine Lab have a First Look Club which means that every month they will send you a mixed case with 1 special bottle, which is a wine they think has the potential to join their bottle project.
Monthly, the Ely Wine Club will send you three bottles on a specific seasonal theme, think along the lines of an up-and-coming corner of Spain, or a fantastic new producer in Piedmonte. The bottles will likely be organic or bio-dynamic.
There are SO many coffee subscriptions in Ireland and honestly that I’m not going to get into each of them as I’d never be finished with this article. I will flag that Coffee Hub.io operate a platform that aims to match you with your ideal coffee based on a questionnaire and algorithm which I think is pretty cool if it works well.
The coffee subscriptions I’ve found so far are Moyee’s Impact Coffee Club, West Cork Coffee Sub, 3FE Lucky Drip Subscription, Anam Coffee Subscription, Ponaire Coffee Roastery, Badger & Dodo Subscription, Bean In Dingle Subscription, Roasted Brown Subscription and Coffee hub.io .
Whiskey & Gin Subscriptions
The Celtic Whiskey Club is ran by the Celtic Whiskey Shop and they send you rare, unusual or new whiskey samples every two months. They are working to reduce the gap between whiskey makers and whiskey drinkers and that’s something I can get behind! Alternatively, you can give the gift of knowledge with a subscription to the Irish Whiskey Magazine.
Blackwater Tasters Club is Fun with a big F. Every two months, you receive a box of seasonal gins and unique spirits. This comes with a Facebook launch invitation which goes into the story behind each bottle. Do not order, if you like plain gin, this is most definitely for someone with an adventurous and curious palate.
The Listoke Distillery gang are nothing if not leaders and inventive and they strike again with their First Sip Society. Their subscription offering includes a monthly bottle of gin with garnish and mixer. They say you can also expect random surprises during the year and knowing them, it’s a surprise that will delight. This plan gets my vote!
If you join the White Hag Clann, you will receive a monthly delivery of 12 beers. There are several packages, each one with different benefits so you should read more about these here.
There is a Cookie Club in Ireland, yes, you read that right…. Do you know a cookie lover, then go and check out what Camerino Bakery has to offer!
Cooking Classes Subscription
Having tried an online class from Sprig earlier this year (it was a media invite), I can say that the monthly membership is a great gift. You can sign up for basic monthly classes or more advanced ones or even ones given by chefs from some great restaurants.
With their From Scratch and Potions subscriptions, the Chef Supper Club allows you to learn to cook from scratch from some of the most renowned chefs in the country (currently it’s Tara Gartland giving a series of classes on gluten-free baking or Killian Crowley teaching kids how to cook) or you can receive wines selected by Cathryn Bell along with tasting notes.
Meal Kits Subscription
Finally, if you know someone who is exhausted and would love to eat well but doesn’t have the energy or the headspace to do anything about it, think of Drop Chef. Their meal kits subscriptions are deliverable nationwide and the quality is perfect.