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“Why Are Non-Alcoholic & Lower ABV Drinks So Expensive?”

In our new regular feature, The Spirits Whisperer, we’re going to be spilling the secrets on spirits and asking the awkward questions, so you don’t have to! A drinks based agony aunt if you will.

First up, the Telegraph asked us why No and Low Spirits can still have a premium price tag, as part of a feature on Sober October. So we got to work... read what we had to say to them via the link below, or scroll on for a deeper dive into our insights.

The Telegraph: Sober October can be surprisingly expensive – here's how to do it without breaking the bank

Do you have any burning questions when it comes to spirits, barware or glassware?

Feel free to share it with us via email and it may appear in a future edition of The Spirits Whisperer: hello@drinksdistilled.com


At the start of August 2023, new government regulations were introduced in the UK which meant that alcoholic beverages are now taxed according to their strength, with drinks below 3.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) taxed at a lower rate. 

As a result, drinkers may be left wondering why some no and low options still have a premium price tag. However, whilst you may be paying less tax on no and low ABV spirits, highly technical or completely new methods are used to extract flavour, and premium ingredients are sourced to ensure an impressive taste. It’s also worth noting that in the case of de-alcoholised products, alcohol is still used in the process as a solvent to extract flavour. Unfortunately, none of these elements come cheap, unless you want to compromise on taste!

Here are some of our favourites to illuminate this further:

 

Crossip Dandy Smoke Alcohol-Free Spirit

 

CROSSIP Dandy Smoke has an incredibly smoky and meaty flavour profile that’s packed full of texture and is an excellent alternative to dark spirits. CROSSIP uses a unique maceration process to extract the flavours, colours and aromas from a multitude of botanicals to create this extremely flavourful 0% alcohol-free spirit. 

So, whilst they have no need to utilise alcohol as a solvent to extract flavour, a great deal of effort and expense goes into sourcing ingredients and the maceration process to create such a powerful flavour. 

 

Everleaf Forest Non Alcoholic Aperitif 

 

Ingredients and the way they are sourced also need to be taken into the equation when it comes to cost. For example, Everleaf, a non-alcoholic aperitif brand, source everything sustainably to support the ecosystems and communities in which they grow. Our favourite flavour, Everleaf Forest (great for fans of Italian aperitifs), is created using two of the world’s most expensive ingredients, saffron and Madagascan vanilla, with their supplier supporting education and women’s rights in Madagascar.

Everleaf also uses a special blend of plants to add texture and mouthfeel, as well as different methods of extraction according to the plants used in each of their flavours, so they achieve the best flavour in the most sustainable way. Unlike CROSSIP, some of their botanical extractions do use alcohol as it’s such a great solvent, which adds to production costs. However, it’s less than 0.5% alcohol so when used in a spritz, this drops to around 0.1%. For comparison, orange juice can contain as much as 0.5% alcohol.

 

Adnams Smidgin Gin

 

Adnams Smidgin Gin comes in at 50% ABV, but is 0.6% ABV per serving when served in the recommended way. It’s crafted in Adnams’ copper stills just like its other gins, however, they have increased the intensity of its recipe, so you only need a small amount to add full gin flavour to your favourite cocktails. 

When using the handy copper measure that comes with the bottle, you can add 2.5ml of Smidgin to 200ml of your favourite tonic, which results in just 0.6% ABV (0.1 unit of alcohol) per serving. Each 20cl bottle of Adnams Smidgin contains 80 serves!

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