A simple question with a complex answer; Alcohol free gins are not all created equal.
When we are talking about virgin spirits, we are essentially looking at 2 VERY different types of drinks. Where you land is very much dependant on your tastes, personal preferences and what you want out of your drinks. I’m going to break the alt-spirit category into 2 more clearly defined sub-categories so you can know what to expect when you are buying. I must preface this by being honest and telling you there is certainly one category I personally prefer over the other. On we go to the first category.
This first sub-category of non alcoholic gin covers brands like Lyre’s and Gordon’s. These are a blend of ingredients, flavourings and E numbers (ie additives) that are thrown together in a recipe to attempt to replicate that real Gin flavour and experience. The ingredients list on the Lyre’s London Spirit reads as such: Water, Glucose Syrup, Natural Flavouring, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabiliser (Cellulose Gum [E466]), Quinine (Cinchona Bark). These try to directly replicate a gin flavour profile but for mine always leave me with a nasty chemical after taste in my mouth. These are made in a giant tub, like a recipe, all blended together.
You’ll love these if: You’re chasing that mock gin flavour.
You’ll need to know: There are plenty of additives to be aware of, make sure you are reading those ingredients!
The Craft Distillations
The second sub-category (an my actual favourite) is the distilled non alc spirits. Brands such as Clovendoe, Ovant, Banks Botanicals and Vera are all using the traditional methods of distillation that we know from traditional gin making techniques, they are just doing it in a completely innovative and ground-breaking way. This all began with Seedlip and has grown into quite the category. These makers use tradition stills and infuse an incredible array of native botanicals and fruit into water rather than alcohol. As you can imagine, it is quite a process (want to know more, then have a listen to my interview with mater distiller Catie Fry of Clovendoe HERE.). It takes an incredible amount of skill and innovation to craft these distillations and it is reflected in the unique flavours and drinking experiences you get with each. None of these are a direct mimic for gin. They are their own beautiful, flavourful botanical drink. Sip on them neat and you get nothing more than floral water, but add a good quality tonic (no Schweppes please!) and those bubbles really bring your drink to life. The ingredients list reads a LOT different to that of our friends over in concoctions: Water, Natural Botanical Distillates & Extracts (Allspice berries, Cardamom, Grapefruit peel, Lemon peel, Oak bark, Cascarilla bark). There is 1 preservative to maintain shelf stability. That is ALL.
You’ll love these if: You are keen to try a unique drinking experience that is clean and nasties free. You’ll need to know: This won’t be a mock gin situation.
So please, take this all into consideration when you are looking into the alcohol free gin space. Like what you’ve read here? This is the type of knowledge I bring to the table when looking after your needs in a Perfect Pour Consultancy. We go on a personalised taste discovery journey together and I find you the best alcohol free drinks to suit your needs.