Following the on-trade’s busiest and most exciting time of the year, venues have long been lamenting that January is depressingly quiet. Well, this needn't be the case any more. The no- and low-alcohol spirits category has grown beyond the unthinkable over the course of 2019, with the appearance of a wealth of high-quality products that have little to envy of their full-proof counterparts.
To make sure you’re ahead of the game and ready to maximise your profits during the mighty Dry January, we’ve compiled a list of the best no- and low-spirits launched in 2019.
After Seedlip put the no-abv category on the map, Claire Warner decided to stay ahead of the curve with the launch of sister brand Æcorn Aperitifs. The range consists of three products made from English grapes and inspired by herbal remedies. Dry boasts notes of nettle, sage and chamomile; Sweet features smoked cherrywood, vanilla, kola nut and chinotto; and Bitter has grapefruit, bay leaf and orange.
0% abv, RRP £19.99/50cl, Æcorn Aperitifs
Described as ‘the world’s first plant-powered social spirit’, the Three Spirit range comprises three expressions. Social Elixir is dark, brooding, slightly warped, oddly moreish with its earthy palm sugar molasses nose and a hint of coconut vinegar. Meanwhile, Livener tastes of red berries, with a background of heat and tannin from the guayusa and guava leaf. The third expression, Nightcap, is oaky, citrussy, offering notes of freshly cut grass on the palate along with bitterness from the use of Hüll Melon hops and lemon balm.
0% abv, RRP £24.99/70cl, Enotria&Coe
This is William Grant's low-abv answer to Seedlip, with the label even recalling Seedlip’s striking graphic design. The Atopia brand comprises two expressions, Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom. The former marries orange and lemon with juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange blossom and wormwood, and is meant to be served with tonic water and a slice of orange. The latter contains lavender, apple and Applewood smoke, to be mixed with Mediterranean tonic and garnished with a green apple slice.
0.5% abv, RRP £25/70cl, Atopia
Cornwall-based Pentire was one of the latest to join the party with the launch of Pentire Adrift. The botanical blend was created by former surf instructor Alistair Frost and was inspired by plants native to the Cornish coastline. It includes a blend of ingredients such as rock samphire, sea purslane, sage, and sea rosemary. It’s free from added sugar, artificial colours and artificial flavourings. Furthermore, the company donates a percentage of proceeds to local sea conservation charities.
0% abv, RRP £26.80/70cl, Pentire
Ceder’s, launched earlier this year, positioned itself as an alternative to gin too, due to its juniper base, and comes in three varieties. Classic is meant to most closely echo a typical gin, it marries juniper, coriander and geranium; Crisp combines the standard gin botanical suspects with cucumber and chamomile; Wild adds ginger, clove and rooibos to the mix.
0.5% abv, RRP £19.99/50cl, The Whisky Exchange
Created by British TV personality Spencer Matthews, this ‘replacement to gin’ contains only two calories per 25ml serving. Botanicals in CleanGin include juniper, orris root, ground cardamom, coriander seeds, angelica root, lemon zest, peppermint oil, ginger oil and cinnamon. On the nose, the drink promises petrichor and pine needles, while on the palate, drinkers can expect ‘suggestions of peppermint and silver birch sap’.
1.2% abv, RRP £24.99/70cl, Clean Liquor
A pale gold, saffron-infused aperitif, this is elegant, bright, and has enough bitterness and flavour to stand up against white vermouths. The mission here is more than one of flavour – the sourcing of ingredients is used as a tool to promote environmental and social progress.
There’s a distinct cola-botanicals flavour to it and this adds a great mature confectionary note to a drink. Everything about it lends itself to the aperitivo hour. Serve this long with white grapefruit juice, sugar and soda, or Paloma-style if you’re a whizz at making grapefruit soda.
0% abv, RRP £18/50cl, Everleaf Drinks
This was one of the best of all the products we tried last year. Lots of flavour is packed in, but not so much that it overwhelms when used in larger quantities. Everything about Caleño is geared towards vibrancy and fun, with the star ingredient, inca berry – which tastes like pineapple, mango and lime – bringing the noise. Serve it long, with lots of ice and plenty of bubbles whenever you need something to keep you in the mood or fire you up.
0% abv, RRP £24.99/70cl, Caleño Drinks
No-abv brand Xachoh comes in two expressions, Blend No. 5 and Blend No. 7. Both are distilled with herbs and spices inspired by ancient Persia and the Silk Road, and are developed to be sipped neat or with a mixer – tonic, ginger ale and soda water are all suggested. Blend No. 5 is a clear liquid made with star anise, ginger, long pepper, turmeric, chamomile, barberry and rosemary. Meanwhile, Blend No. 7 looks to tread the path of dark spirits with its golden colour. It’s got ginger, mace, cinnamon, star anise, saffron, dark crystal malt and sumac among its ingredients.
0% abv, RRP £28.99/70cl, Xachoh
Nine Elms No. 18
Touted as an ‘alcohol-free drink designed to accompany good food’, Nine Elms No. 18 strives to draw parallels with wines and aperitifs in a similar way to Æcorn. It’s made by blending four different berry juices with botanical infusions of herbs and spices, and can be served straight (you’ll want a wine glass for this one) or in cocktails.
0% abv, RRP £20/75cl, Nine Elms