How are non-alcoholic spirits made?
Here at unwstd., we have so many fun and tasty mocktail recipes that use the best of the best non-alcoholic spirits and pre-mixers. But, I’m sure you’re wondering just how these healthy alternatives - which taste just as good as (maybe even better than) alcoholic gin, rum, or other mixers - are made.
Most brands keep the specifics a secret because they’ve spent YEARS perfecting the perfect formula. There are A LOOOT of different ways these companies can make non alcoholic spirits and add their own spin to it. What we do know is that most of them use a mixture of these methods:
- Distillation: making an alcoholic spirit and then evaporating the alcohol from it.
- Maceration: The source of the desired flavour (usually botanicals and essences) is soaked in a cold liquid - with or without alcohol (the alcohol would be removed by distillation later)
- Infusion: a liquid (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) is infused with the aroma of the botanical over a long period of time.
The makers of non-alcoholic spirits try to replicate the complex flavours of traditional gins and rums by adding many different botanicals, juniper berries, herbs, nuts and seeds. But it’s more than just flavoured water. Each ingredient goes through a custom, complex distillation process.
Fun fact: Botanicals have a lot of different benefits besides taste. They range from boosting energy to relaxation, they can help with memory, burn fat, or strengthen the immune system.
Here’s the general lowdown for some of our favourite alcohol free spirits.
Free of alcohol, sugar, sweeteners and allergens (including wheat, barley, shellfish, eggs, nuts, lupin and more). Then what IS in the drink??
Seedlip’s non alcoholic spirits take six whole weeks to make. Remember what I said about maceration? Seedlip drinks start with their custom maceration method (in their case, with alcohol). Each botanical (orange, mandarin, lemon, ginger, lemongrass) is soaked with neutral grain spirit and water. This leaves a ‘mash’ which they run through a copper pot still to then remove the alcohol and concentrate the flavours. This is why their final product is not completely alcohol-free, but less than 0.5% (basically alcohol-free, right?). Now it's ready to be blended, filtered, and bottled!
Other brands use distillation too, but are completely free of alcohol during the making process. Monday Distillery, Lyre’s, and Ovant, for example, use water and a huge amount of botanicals and extracts to make up for the lost flavours from the lack of alcohol in their concentrations.
Famous gin maker Gordon’s has come out with Gordon’s 0.0%. This is made by distilling the same botanicals that go into their Gordon’s London Dry Gin. So you still get that classic juniper taste that you expect from Gordon’s, just without the alcohol effects!
So even though everyone’s keeping their cards close to their chests, you know that most use a distillation process for a complex mix of botanicals, essences, and extracts. With more and more of them coming on to the market, you might want to grab your own drink to join the non-alcoholic drinking revolution!