Non-alcoholic distilled spirits trend

The new trend in the beverage industry and especially among craft distillers is called “non-alcoholic distilled spirits”. In other words: alcohol-free distillates. So where does this new movement come from and what are its success factors?

Sober curious

No alcohol but always in a good mood: sober curious. The term for non-alcoholic beverages was introduced in the United States in 2018. “Sober curious” describes a concept that rethinks and stages sobriety and an alcohol-free life with exciting mocktail ingredients and cool Instagram hashtags. In New York City, sobriety parties and alcohol-free bars celebrate being sober and living without a hangover the next morning. The trend is already noticeable in Switzerland.

Non-alcoholic distilled spirits are gaining more and more fans for reasons related to lifestyle, a performance-oriented society and the desire for healthy living. This trend is expected to continue, as consumers still want to go to fancy bars to enjoy a cocktail, but in a different form.

Mocktail Non-alcoholic distilled spirits
Mocktail Non-alcoholic distilled spirits ©andrew_wong

Production of non-alcoholic distilled spirits

Why are we talking about non-alcoholic distillates and not non-alcoholic spirits? The reason is simple: because spirits, by definition, must contain at least fifteen percent alcohol. The term “distillate”, on the other hand, refers only to the condensed steam that drips into a still. In other words: herbal water from the still.
Basically, the production of non-alcohol distilled spirits does not differ much from the production of alcohol-rich distillates. For example, a gin is produced like a normal gin. Some aromas, such as those of citrus fruits, are very water-soluble, while others, such as juniper berries, are not soluble in water. In this case, the aromas are extracted from the juniper berries with oil and sugar as an intermediate step and then added to the water. Then the whole product is distilled and preserved with lemon water.
In order to replace the missing alcohol, strong taste impulses have to be given. This is why strong spices are widely used.

What non-alcoholic distilled spirits are available?

In Switzerland, this trend is still in its beginnings. The global pioneer is “Seedlip”, which was the first to launch alcohol-free distilled “spirits” in 2016. Many producers of alcohol-free distilled spirits rely on the principle of “omission”: no alcohol, no sugar and no preservatives. This is a good concept, but it also means that the shelf life of opened bottles is very short. We are talking about two to six weeks.

Non-alcoholic distilled spirits in Switzerland

It remains to be seen how the arrival of this trend is perceived in Switzerland and whether it has a chance in this market. To answer this question, we spoke to Mr Adrian Affentranger, CEO of the Willisau distillery (Diwisa). Thanks to continuous innovation and highly motivated employees, Willisau Distillery has become the market leader in the production and distribution of spirits in Switzerland. The family-owned company optimally combines traditional expertise, innovative flair and high technology. This is why it goes without saying that Diwisa is already “distilling” something in the field of “non-alcoholic distillates”. Adrian Affentranger confirms: “It is indeed a very current theme and several brands are in development. We already started distributing the Fluère brand in Switzerland last summer.”
He confirms that initial experiences show that there is interest in the market, but that it is still extremely important to introduce consumers to this subject. “We have identified the target group mainly among people who behave reasonably and who are also reluctant to consume alcohol, but who would still like to treat themselves to a slightly more special drink. This applies in particular to people who still have to drive, pregnant women, but also people who simply want to avoid alcohol.”
In answer to the question whether there is already a project for an alcohol-free distillate, Adrian Affentranger says: “We are developing an alcohol-free distillate, but we don’t want to reveal too much about it yet. We are excited about this latest innovation and we will certainly test it!”

Mocktail Gin Non-alcoholic distilled spirits
Mocktail Gin Non-alcoholic distilled spirits ©Jez Timms

Non-alcoholic wine is also an option

In the meantime, there are also winemakers who bet on non-alcoholic wines. Very often at the beginning, these wines smell and taste like apple juice. Here, the alcohol produced during fermentation is separated from the liquid by distillation. When it is heated, the alcohol evaporates – as do many of the aromas.

There are already alcohol-free vermouths on the market made from non-alcoholic wine and grape must or other alcohol-free bitters.

Have you ever tried alcohol-free distillates or do you know of other non-alcoholic distilled spirits in Switzerland? If so, let us know your opinion!

Non-alcoholic drinks are becoming more and more popular: Focus on non-alcoholic aperitifs

It is not just about non-alcoholic distilled spirits – non-alcoholic beverages in general are becoming more and more popular and also more and more innovative.

The Appenzell company Goba has also been looking at the “alcohol-free” trend.

Alcohol-free and tasty – Goba

Manzoni is the warmth of the berries in our range of aperitifs. Totally alcohol-free, the bitter and sour notes seduce and leave a very pronounced berry taste in the mouth. Combine it as you wish with fresh herbs, mineral water, Flauder, … or serve it in the classic way “on the rocks”.
The “Manzoni” is also available as a powerful Manzini, a fire of berries with 15% alcohol by volume. Find out the personalised Manzoni bottle here.

Non-alcoholic distilled spirits Manzoni ©shop.goba-welt.ch
Non-alcoholic distilled spirits Manzoni ©shop.goba-welt.ch

Amicero – the hearty taste of ginger is as beguiling as the name. With a shot of Amicero, mineral water becomes a new experience. Mixed with Prosecco, a real gem of an aperitif is created. Amicero is produced by a small factory in Liguria and bottled at Goba. Hurray for friendship, because together we can do much better. Find out the personalised Manzoni bottle here.

Non-alcoholic distilled spirits Amicero ©shop.goba-welt.ch
Non-alcoholic distilled spirits Amicero ©shop.goba-welt.ch

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The new trend in the beverage industry and especially among craft distillers is called “non-alcoholic distilled spirits”. In other words: alcohol-free distillates. So where does this new movement come from and what are its success factors?
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