Top 10 award-winning low-and-no drinks
As we pass the halfway mark of Dry January, we’ve rounded up 10 stand-out low-and-no products that scooped up the top awards at our first Masters competition of 2023.
To kick off The Global Spirits Masters Competitions 2023, three judging panels assembled in London just before Christmas to put the low‐and‐no category through its paces.
The first panel to gather at the Ibis Styles hotel in London Bridge comprised: Antony Moss MW, qualifications director at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET); Joyce Yu‐Hua Chou, translation project manager at the WSET; and Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions, who led the group.
A second team was chaired by David T Smith, writer, consultant and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo. He was accompanied by: Evan Prousaefs, bar manager of Sexy Fish in London; and Alan Uresti, head of mixology at Annabel’s Mayfair.
The third group consisted of: Rosie Lees, co‐founder and director of Nineteen94; Sara Jane Eichler, founder of Negroni Club UK; and Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co-founder of the Whisky for Everyone blog, who chaired.
Keep reading to find out which 10 entries captured our judges attention and took home the coveted Gold and Master medals.
Adnams Smidgin Dry Gin
This year’s blind-tasting competition was kicked off with a flight of Low‐Alcohol Serves, and a Master medal was found immediately in Adnams Smidgin Dry Gin.
Specially distilled for making low-alcohol drinks, the serve impressed Kiely’s panel with its “intense fragrance of spices and a bit of citrus”.
To make this innovative product, Adnams increased the intensity of its six ingredients found in its London Dry gin by adding 10 times the botanicals to its copper pot still, meaning consumers only need a ‘smidgin’ of the 50% ABV product with their tonic to create a delicious, low-alcohol G&T, or to add real ‘gin’ flavour to low-alcohol cocktails.
“The flavour holds up very well with tonic, despite only needing a very small amount,” noted Kiely.
Savoia Americano Rosso
This beautifully-bottled Italian aperitivo secured a Gold medal in the Low‐Alcohol (6% to 25% ABV) round of our blind tasting.
The judges were impressed by Savoia Americano Rosso’s “rich and aromatic” notes on the nose, combined with it being “nicely bitter and herbal on the palate.”
Furthermore, it was praised for having a “delicious balance of sweetness with a lovely, lingering aftertaste.” For the perfect low-ABV serve, pair this with San Pellegrino Blood Orange to create a simple yet effective Garibaldi.
Beefeater Botanics Lemon & Ginger
In the Lower‐Alcohol (26% to 30% ABV) round, Beefeater Botanics Lemon & Ginger walked away with an impressive Gold medal.
This spirit drink has the traditional Beefeater London Dry Gin base, spruced up with the natural flavours of lemon and ginger, without sugar or sweeteners. If you’re moderating your alcohol intake rather than cutting back all together, this bottle is a great one for the booze shelf.
Four Pillars Bloody Bandwagon
Four Pillars Bloody Bandwagon was one of 12 Gold medal winners in the in the Non‐Alcoholic White ‘Spirit’ (less than 0.5% ABV) heat, enjoyed for its “sweet, red‐berry” nose, with a “good level of dryness and complexity on the palate – even when mixed with tonic water”.
This bottling is based on the Australian brand’s cult favourite, Bloody Shiraz Gin. It was created using an alcohol-free base of highly concentrated Shiraz wine, alongside botanicals including Tasmanian pepperberry leaf and citrus.
Collecting a Master medal in the Non-Alcoholic Apéritif (less than 0.5% ABV) heat was Everleaf Mountain, celebrated for its “herbal, fruity and floral nose”, which gave way to a “lovely tart berry fruitiness, herbaceous backbone and a balanced peppery finish”, as noted by Eichler.
This vibrant blend of sustainably sourced botanicals was created to capture the aromatic essence of the mountains, with flavours of cherry blossom, rosehip and strawberry. Pair with light tonic and garnish with strawberry slices for the perfect non-alcoholic Spritz.
NIO Ginger Sour
Candied ginger meets zesty citrus in this ready-to-drink (RTD) mocktail from the NIO brand, which scooped a Master medal in the flight of Pre‐Mixed/RTD products.
Chambers enjoyed “earthy crystallised ginger” on the nose and the cocktail’s “tangy, sharp palate with lots of earthy ginger – much better and balanced with ice/chilled; good sour citrus”.
A great RTD to have on hand for your next dinner party.
Betty Buzz Ginger Beer
Created to be paired with rum, Tequila or whisky (alcoholic or otherwise), or enjoyed on its own, this Gold medal-winning ginger beer from Gossip Girl star Blake Lively’s mixer brand offers the clean, fresh taste of ginger with just the right balance of spice.
Void of artificial colours or sweeteners and created with real ginger juice, cane sugar and citric acid, each bottle of Betty Buzz Ginger Beer clocks in at 70 calories.
Creamy Creation Silk Cream Liq.eur with Maca Concept
Leading B2B (business-to-business) cream liqueur developer and manufacturer Creamy Creation moved into the no-ABV category last year with the launch of three non-alcoholic concepts, one of which was the Gold medal-winning Silk Cream Liq.eur with Maca.
This zero-ABV version of a traditional cream liqueur was developed for sipping, and Kiely’s panel noted the “vanilla aroma, custard‐like”, and found the palate to be “well‐textured, indulgently creamy, and very good”.
De Kuyper Zero 0% Margarita
De Kuyper blew away the judges with De Kuyper Zero 0% Margarita in the non-alcoholic apéritifs round.
Uresti founds the iconic ‘sweet and sour’ non-alcoholic serve, crafted with flavours of lime, orange and agave, to be “fresh and citrusy”, while Prousaefs enthused: “This definitely smells and tastes like a Margarita. A mild spiciness and sour‐sweetness at the end.”
Best served cold in a Margarita glass with a lime wedge, this entry went on to be named Taste Master of the competition.
In the Non‐Alcoholic Dark ‘Spirit’ (less than 0.5% ABV) flight, Sober-Rum 0.0% went home with a coveted Gold medal for its “hint of nice butterscotch and caramel towards the end”.
Sober-Rum is said to be a tribute to sugar cane farmers, with a portion of proceeds from each bottle put towards sustainable farming practices. It offers spice and tropical notes of vanilla, pineapple, cocoa beans and clove, creating a spicy and smooth non-alcoholic alternative to rum.