Cheers! Low or no alcohol on test
The next big thing in the drinks market is low- or no-alcohol spirits. So if you’re a designated driver, pregnant, watching your weight or just wanting to cut down on your alcohol intake, then these beverages may soon be on the menu for you. When making regular spirits, distillation is a way of creating a higher proof. The alcohol is converted into vapour and condensed into liquid, with the process repeated until the desired alcohol-to-water ratio is achieved. Distillation in low- or no-alcohol spirits is to extract flavours and elements of the ingredients to concentrate flavours. This is also achieved alongside steaming and decanting. It can take up to six weeks and is labour-intensive, which may explain the final cost – which is not much cheaper than normal alcohol.
1 THREE SPIRIT, 50cl, £24.99, threespiritdrinks.com
Recommended serve: With ginger ale and a slice of orange.
Calories: 26 per 50ml.
Ingredients: 11 herbs.
Smell: Very strong herbal scent. Hints of liquorice, treacle and a bit reminiscent of traditional cough mixture.
Taste: Delicious! Like a non- alcoholic Pimm’s or Aperol Spritz. The fruitiness tasted authentic and testers felt it could pass as an alcoholic drink. The smell doesn’t translate over to the taste.
2 CALEÑO, 70cl, £24.99, calenodrinks.com
Recommended serve: With ice and light tonic or pineapple juice and lime.
Calories: 19.5 per 50ml.
Ingredients: Juniper, citrus and spice botanicals, with fruit flavours including Inca berry, pineapple and mango.
Smell: Fragrant with a hint of sweet bubblegum.
Taste: Very palatable. Sweetness is tempered by the tonic. Slightly fruity aftertaste. Delicious paired with pineapple juice. Suited those with a sweet tooth.
3 SEEDLIP GARDEN 108, 70cl, £20.95, seedlipdrinks.com
Recommended serve: Over ice with some elderflower tonic and a cucumber ribbon.
Calories: 0.2 per 50ml.
Ingredients: Peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme. No alcohol, no sugars, no artificial sweeteners.
Smell: Clean and fresh. Green garden vegetable scent with a strong hint of pea.
Taste: Light, fresh. Testers definitely tasted the pea and some identified the hint of mint. Very palatable overall, no unpleasant aftertaste.
4 ATOPIA WILD BLOSSOM, 70cl, £23.89, thedrinkshop.com
Recommended serve: With tonic and a slice of green apple.
Calories: 17 per 50ml.
Ingredients: Distilled extracts and flavours of lavender and apple blossom plus water, infused with applewood smoke. It contains just 0.5% ABV.
Smell: A little bit spicy. Less floral than testers expected.
Taste: A slightly bitter gin- like taste with an overriding woody, smokey aftertaste. It’s most like a spicy gin so it would suit those who like Opihr or Elephant gins.
5 XACHOH BLEND NO. 5, 70cl, £28.89, drinksupermarket.com
Recommended serve: Over ice with pomegranate juice and pomegranate seed garnish.
Calories: Zero.Ingredients: Distilled from botanicals including star anise, camomile, turmeric, barberry, rosemary, ginger and long pepper.
Smell: Quite perfumed, with a hint of tequila about it.
Taste: Lovely for some, but like Ribena to others. It was milder to taste than the scent promised and tasted moreish when served as a long drink.
6 STRYYK NOT RUM, 70cl, £16, 31dover.com
Recommended serve: With cola, pineapple or a pina colada mix.
Calories: 3 per 50ml.
Ingredients: A blend of sweet sugar cane, raisin, vanilla and oak for some added spice with no added sugar or artificial flavours.
Smell: Like flat coke to some, and rum to others.
Taste: Really pleasant and with more than a passing resemblance to the real thing with a genuine sugar cane taste. It made a great mixer for virgin mojitos, pina coladas and Cuba libres. Versatile and useful.