What is Alcohol Free Gin ?
Since coming off the booze because of my health I get asked all the time so what is alcohol free gin?
Is it any good? Or how do you drink that stuff?
It’s a tough one to answer because technically it is not gin.
I know sorry but it’s pretty close and everyone calls it that even though it should really be called an “alcohol free spirit”.
I guess it’s like calling cava champagne or prosecco.
However, my main question has always been.
- Is it alcohol free?
- Yes Great -Then
- Does it taste good?
If the answer is yes then I really don’t care.
At the end of the day, I am an advocate of choice and when it comes to alcohol free the world needs more choice not less.
Since giving up alcohol I am a very big fan of alcohol free gin or whatever we should really call it.
What is an alcohol-free gin if it’s not gin ?
So we have got the message that it’s not really gin. Technically anyway.
However, the good news is these drinks are made with gin in mind just without the alcohol.
As it turns out they are also a good option if you are watching the calories at well.
Now some people will say “what the point if it does not have any alcohol?”
And the answer to that is “choice”.
Very often we are looking for something that screams 0.0 abv.
If you don’t know what abv is by the way it is alcohol by volume. It tells us if our drink is full of alcohol or has none at all.
Its important information if you don’t drink.
This alcohol free gin is designed in part to give us the taste, the feel, the aromas but without the alcohol .
Although in some cases because of natural fermentation it will have a trace of alcohol so very low.
However, some gin can go to 0.5% per cent so I do keep an eye on those.
Before you go into a panic lots of food probably has more alcohol in it like a banana or orange.
Even some burger rolls believe it or not.
Now champagne has to be champagne if it is produced in a certain region of France.
Gin’s rules are all about abv, so alcohol by volume.
In legal speak to make a gin it would need to be full of alcohol.
I mean an abv minimum requirement of 37.5% abv. For someone who is alcohol free that makes me panic!
So if you look the options in an alcohol free marketplace that has an abv of between 0.0 and 0.5% you can see its a massive difference.
So in reality this is why they call it alcohol free spirit rather than gin.
Although we all call it gin.
And as a lawyer would say just don’t put it on the label!
Always know your alcohol limit through the drink aware website.
How is low alcohol gin or spirit made?
Now in many cases it might be a bit different to totally alcohol free gin.
The industry is moving fast and with science playing the “miracle maker” we can actually have great tasting drinks if we are trying to lower or cut out our alcohol intake.
Its ironic as science really created alcohol in the first place if only by accident.
Big brand gin distillers keen to get in on the alcohol free growth market are going full throttle on developing alcohol free products.
In terms of production it is often made in the same way as the full strength alcohol based gin.
They do this using a “distillation process”, which has served the gin industry very well over the years.
A neutral alcohol made from grain is added to a copper and then to a range of what we would know as “botanicals”.
If you have ever wondered why there are so many flavors of gins well here is your answer.
Botanicals are actually very natural ingredients.
So let’s put “Botanicals” into plain speak:
- Other natural flavorings
In fact if you wanted to you could make 500 different testing gins with lots of different botanicals which is actually why I find alcohol free gin exciting.
Juniper is the thing that makes the alcohol free spirit taste like gin and it’s a legal requirement of alcohol based gins.
It is why the drink can taste similar without any alcohol in them. Clever right?
So you take the spirit, add botanicals and heat the whole thing up.
The alcohol separates with the heat and goes right through those flavors via the botanicals and that is how gin is really formed.
This vapor as any good chemistry lesson will teach you goes back to liquid and is added to water.
So how do they make it low alcohol then?
So take the alcohol and dilute it so much that it is low alcohol.
You are basically reducing the alcohol by volume down and down until you get to the low levels needed.
It’s actually very clever but basic science.
Of course, you have to keep the botanicals and the flavor but here’s why it works so well.
You are actually diluting the alcohol not the flavor.
It is why low alcohol gin is such a good versatile and flexible drink.
However, because the alcohol level is so low you can’t actually call it gin, you could probably call it anything else.
But people still call it gin of course!
What I want is alcohol-free ‘gin’!
I am with you here as I can’t drink alcohol.
So how is alcohol free gin made?
It is actually really important to know.
Some producers will use the same system as low alcohol gin. It’s just the dilution goes even further so there is almost no alcohol.
This is not my preferred choice if I am honest.
Now the good news is that some alcohol free gin makers, especially the new ones on the block, don’t use any spirit in the mix.
I actually feel better about this whole process now.
Have you ever heard of “maceration” ?
It’s pretty cool and clever.
So all those natural herb flavors known as “botanicals” are left to soak like a great casserole I guess.
So as the moisture goes in the herbs it becomes a pulp of flavor which is very similar to the flavor of gin.
So you have none of the alcohol but all the flavors.
It’s a very specific skill and art but many of the producers of alcohol free gin have pulled it off and the end product tastes great.
In fact for a few brands I have had to double check on the bottle if it really is alcohol free.
Of course as you continue to drink it you realize there is no alcohol in it whatsoever.
Is alcohol-free gin cheap as chips?
No and I am actually really pleased about this.
I will explain myself as I bet you were hoping to save some money going alcohol free.
And yes you can still save money if you go alcohol free.
You don’t start buying things online when you are drunk for example or have another seven drinks for the road!
The answer on why is not a cheap option is that it is not that cheap to make.
If you have read how it was made you will know that it takes special crafting with some special ingredients and that takes time and care.
Most of the drink makers I review here I am pleased to say really care about their products.
They often come from owners who gave up alcohol themselves.
They know the last thing the alcohol free industry needs is poor products.
That is how alcohol free drinks got a bad reputation all those years ago!
Remember the first alcohol beer, no?
Good you were saved from that!
To be honest alcohol free wine has only just got it act together and now it tastes really good.
With an alcohol free gin you’re really getting the same process and you could argue there is extra effort in making sure it’s alcohol free.
They still have to have a production method at the end of the day and that involves expensive machinery to make that happen.
So I would always spend a bit more on my alcohol free gin.
If you are out and about though just make sure naive bar owners don’t serve it like soda water.
It will cost you the earth. I have been there and got that badge.
Does alcohol-free gin taste good?
Out of all the alcohol free drinks since giving up alcohol, alcohol free gin is up there.
But there are now a few great brands out there to find your way around.
They don’t all taste the same.
Yes they taste similar to gin but that is a range of brands all with different methods and of course different flavors via the botanicals they use.
It’s refreshing, adult, tasty and you do feel like you are a part of “the party”.
Remember social pressure can lead people to drink more alcohol so having an alcohol free drink in your hand can really help with that.
Now a world of warning. No it’s not alcohol so don’t expect it to be.
If you are also looking to lose weight then regardless choose a great alcohol free tonic water like Fever Tree Light, ice and a slice of lemon or lime and it will really make your drink come alive.
With Fever Tree Light and Seedlip you are really looking at a calorie free option along with the excellent taste.
It’s terms of taste you get the usual gin attributes like herbals, spices, orange peel florals.
And the list is really endless depending on the brand.
But I say it again, it’s not alcohol and don’t expect it to be!
Try the Duchess Alcohol free range for a great and easy way to have an alcohol free gin and tonic.
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As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases but this does not affect what you pay. I do my best to make that clear at all times and follow FTC guidelines.
But if you want to get close to a very good gin and tonic albeit alcohol free then you are on the right track!
When do you drink alcohol-free gin?
When can’t you.
You can drink it whenever you would drink the alcohol version but with more benefits like no hangover or you’re driving the next day or in an hour!
Remember though the measure of the drink should be the same!
They are designed to be a measure not a big long glass of tonic water!
OK you might add the tonic water but please don’t add the alcohol free gin like that.
Some of the time I really enjoy an alcohol free gin at :
- House parties ( take your own)
- Pre-dinner drink
- After work drinking
- Friday night movie
- Holiday flight ( although most airlines crazily won’t have it!)
Airlines are quick to shout about the effect of alcohol in the skies but are at the back of the queue when it comes to options.
The good news:
You are only restricted by your own choice when it comes to alcohol free gin.
And yes you can use it as part of a mocktail but be wary of the additional sugar.
Personally you would be better off with what they call a gin and low mocktail.
Zero alcohol gin spirit and a low cal mixer.
Ice and a slice can really make a difference.
Why are alcohol-free drinks gaining in popularity?
There is definitely a trend. I personally think the quality of alcohol free gin is driving that.
Alcohol free is being driven by a more “health conscious” younger end of the market.
But like smoking it seems people are waking up to a world where they are starting to realize the harm alcohol can do.
This is despite living in a very alcohol based world well certainly in the UK anyway.
Since I gave up alcohol people are always keen to say go “one won’t matter”!
It is strange but they either view you as a problem alcoholic or an abstainer. Both seem to get the wrath of others.
One involves more gossip about you though.
Even as a social drinker alcohol can harm both physically and mentally.
I was just a social drinker and ended up with 48 hours to live so is it any wonder I love alcohol free drinks.
But only 0.0% abv.
Gin and the alcohol free is being turned to by people below 30.
That is both moderation or going totally alcohol free. It’s like a wake call.
However, it is happening in the older generation as well.
It is not unknown for me to pre order alcohol free drinks in a bar and it becomes the best-seller on the day.
People do want the option of alcohol free drinks and alcohol free gin is part of that.
In the Guardian Newspaper in the UK in2018, the National Health Service so NHS found that people under 25 who do not drink increased from a respectable 18% to 29% in ten years.
It seems that trend including for alcohol free gin is expected to continue.
What is alcohol free gin in your mind?
The quality is there and so is the taste.
Although I keep being asked “will it taste different!”
Its not alcohol so yes!
The botanicals will make all sorts of tastes come alive and you will develop your own favorites as you try them.
Did you know the answer to what is alcohol free gin and would you give it a go?
Leave your comment below and I always get back to you.