Along with temperatures, veganism and the universal disdain for the Cats trailer, non-alcoholic spirits are on the rise. The numbers don’t lie: According to a recent white paper from Distill Ventures, the Diageo-backed drinks accelerator, there were just four non-alcoholic spirits on the market in April 2018; by October 2018, there were 41.
Over the last six months, the quantity of no-abv products on the market has only increased – and if the number of bottles that land on our desks at Imbibe HQ is any indication, these launches won’t slow down anytime soon. Let’s take a closer look at some of the latest non-alcoholic spirits to hit the market, shall we?
Atopia Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom
This new product from William Grant isn’t technically no abv – it’s bottled at 0.5% – but that’s beside the point. It’s clearly the Scottish drinks giant’s answer to non-alcoholic OG Seedlip, with the label even recalling Seedlip’s striking graphic design.
The Atopia brand was launched with two expressions in its range, 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. Both were created by William Grant’s master distiller Lesley Gracie.
Imbibe tried Atopia’s Wild Blossom flavour. On the nose, it’s a mix of medicinal, floral and meaty aromas. The palate has a somewhat nondescript citrus flavour that gives way to a bitter smokiness with a paprika-like quality to it. With tonic, the medicinal quality from the nose is amplified on the tongue. The smokiness is slightly mitigated, but unfortunately the bitterness lingers.
Atopia Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom, 0.5% abv, £25, atopia.co.uk
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 Seedlip’s Aecorn.
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.
On the nose, the crimson liquid has an herbaceous quality that borders on pickled – though it’s not unpleasant. Notes of dill, tomato and tomato leaf dominate, with earthy underpinnings of beetroot.
Berries make themselves known on the palate: cranberry sourness, plus redcurrant and raspberry. There’s even a hint of black tea in the background, adding some tannin. With the right dish, perhaps a hearty vegetarian main, Nine Elms would make a pleasant match.
Nine Elms No. 18, £20, nineelmsdrinks.com
Xachoh Blend No. 5 and Blend No. 7
New non-alcoholic spirit brand Xachoh has launched its first 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, camomile, barberry and rosemary. It has a nose of deep honey aromas, a hint of ginger and peppery spice – quite comforting, like a fresh ginger tea with spoonfuls of honey heaped in.
For as sweet as the nose is, the palate is dry and the honey notes are subtle. It’s well spiced, with fresh ginger root, black pepper, cinnamon and a slight herbaceousness coming through. There’s also a ricey note on the finish that gives it roundness. Tonic bulks it all out further.
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. Up front, the nose is surprisingly piney before cinnamon and a rich maple sweetness take over. The palate retains the pine and cinnamon notes, with a fresh ginger root acidity. The malt makes itself known at the end, giving the flavour some heft.
Xachoh Blend No. 5 and Blend No. 7, £28.99, xachoh.co.uk