Ten new low- and no-alcohol ‘spirits’ brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
As the low- and no-alcohol trend gathers pace, we take a look at the latest products that have entered the market in the last 12 months.
According to a recent survey, almost a quarter of British drinkers have embraced low-alcohol alternatives.
The rise of abstaining and low-alcohol interest has created a new ‘spirits’ category, which in the past year has seen an influx of new brands infiltrate the market.
Seedlip was the first brand to really pioneer the sector. It continued to showcase its expertise in the burgeoning category with the launch of a new zero-abv apéritif range this year – thought to be a category first.
The sector has also attracted the attention of the world’s biggest drinks players, with new expressions launched by Pernod Ricard and William Grant & Sons. UK drinks giant Diageo has owned a stake in Seedlip since 2016 through its start-up accelerator programme Distill Ventures. Currently, Distill Ventures’ range of non-alcoholic brands accounts for a quarter of the company’s 15-plus portfolio.
For the non-alcoholic category to grow, Distill Ventures said the range of ingredients required to make non-alcoholic cocktails “easily needs to expand” with more availability in bars and in stores.
To explore the issue of education and transparency in alcohol-free ‘spirits’, see SB’s recent in-depth feature on the topic.
Click through to the following pages to see our pick of the top non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ brands that have launch in the last 12 months.
Price: £18 (US$22.20)
The brainchild of Paul Mathew, owner of London bar Hide and conservation biologist, Everleaf is a non-alcoholic apéritif brand made from 18 different plants.
Ingredients used to make Everleaf include vanilla and saffron “for richness”, gentian and iris “for bitterness and earthy warmth”, and vetiver and orange blossom “for freshness and vibrancy”.
The product is recommended mixed with soda or tonic water, or as a base for cocktails. It can also be sipped neat over ice.
Price: £24.99 (US$30.82)
Launched in January 2019, Caleño is a Colombia-inspired non-alcoholic ‘spirit’.
The expression is made with botanicals including juniper, coriander, green cardamom, citrus, spices and Sicilian lemon peel, which have been steam-distilled in stainless steel drums.
It is recommended served with tonic water and garnished with an inca berry.
Price: £19.99 (US$24.64) for a three-bottle case
Scottish brand Slange Var released its first bottle run in January 2019, comprised of 1,000 bottles.
Slange Var has been designed to appeal to millennials who are looking to drink less or abstain from alcohol consumption altogether, and is recommended to be sipped neat, on the rocks, as a base ingredient in a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mixed with spirits including rum and gin.
The drink is made from an assortment of ingredients including fresh water from The Trossachs, honey, lime and ginger.
The brand has attracted investment from James Espey OBE, the co-founder of The Last Drop Distillers.
Price: £25 (US$31.30)
French drinks group Pernod Ricard became the latest producer to move into the non-alcoholic category with the launch of it dark ‘spirit’ Celtic Soul earlier this month.
Celtic Soul is described as a “non-alcoholic blend of carefully distilled dark spirits”, with a flavour of “sweet vanilla, spices and oak”.
It has been created by Craig Hutchison, founder and managing director of ‘gin alternative’ Ceder’s, which entered into a distribution agreement with Pernod Ricard UK last year.
Price: £25 (US$31.75)
Glenfiddich owner William Grant & Sons also entered the low-alcohol category last month (June) with its 0.5% abv ‘spirit’ Atopia.
Atopia is made from “natural” distillates, flavours and extracts, and is available in two variants: Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom.
Created by Lesley Gracie, Hendrick’s master distiller at William Grant & Sons, Atopia’s flavour is attained through natural distillation and botanical extraction to “build layers of taste complexity and sophistication”.
Gracie aimed to “create an accessible yet special flavour profile to elevate the moderated drinking experience”.
Price: £19.99 (US$24.64)
Launched in April this year, Aecorn is thought to be the world’s first non-alcoholic apéritif range.
Sister brand to Seedlip, the “world’s first” non-alcoholic distilled ‘spirit’, the Aecorn range comprises three expressions: Dry, Bitter and Aromatic.
Aecorn is inspired by the European apéritif tradition and English herbal remedies from the 17th century.
Each expression is produced from English grapes and aromatised with herbs, roots and bitter botanicals.
Price: £23 (US$29)
July has been a popular month for non-alcoholic launches with London-based Portobello Road joining the bandwagon with its 4.2% abv ‘spirit’ Temperance.
Temperance, which means moderation, has been distilled using the same nine botanicals as Portobello Road’s London Dry and Navy Strength offerings.
To create Temperance, Portobello Road founder Jake Burger developed “bespoke” techniques and added extra ingredients, such as naturally high-mineral-content water, botanical hydrosols and “one or two secret ingredients”.
Temperance is recommended served as an alternative to gin or vodka in mixed drinks and cocktails, such as Negronis and Tom Collins. It can be served with tonic water and garnished with a twist of pink grapefruit.
Price: £16.19 (US$20)
Created by Vestal Vodka owner William Borrell, Willow is a 4.4% abv spirit-based beverage made at Borrell’s subterranean London bar, Ladies & Gentlemen.
The product is made from a Calvados base that is blended with pineapple, star anise, cherry tomato, kaffir lime leaves and agave syrup.
Borrell called the “notion of no-alcohol ‘spirits’” a “con”, but said Willow offers “sufficient character and bite”, with notes of green apple, citrus, tomato and flora.
Ginish and Rumish
Price: £24.99 (US$30.81)
Danish producer Ish Drinks uses ‘natural’ ingredients to provide alcohol-free alternatives for gin and rum, called Ginish and Rumish. The range is now available to buy from European health food retailer Holland & Barrett.
The range was created by Danish entrepreneur Morten Sørensen, who created Ish to deliver an “alcohol-free option for those who can’t or don’t always have the desire to drink alcohol, but crave the same familiar flavours”.
It is available in the UK through distributor Hops, Grapes and Spirits (HG&S).
Stryyk Not Vodka
Price: £15 (US$19.15)
Last December, zero-alcohol distilled ‘spirits’ brand Stryyk extended its range with the launch of Stryyk Not Vodka.
The range first launched in July 2018 with two products: Stryyk Not Rum and Stryyk Not Gin.
Like the rest of the series, Stryyk Not Vodka has been distilled and bottled in the UK. The new expression has undergone a “rigorous development process to ensure it delivers on flavour”.
The ‘vodka’ has notes of cucumber and menthol with a “sweet, wheaty undertone and hints of coriander”. The finish is described as spicy, peppery and warming.