5 Things to Look for When Looking for Non-alcoholic Gin Alternatives
by Frances ChnaideronDec 20, 2022
Determining which non-alcoholic gin is for you comes down to a few technical matters: juniper notes vs citrus notes; spices vs herbs; character and finish. But if you’re just like us, you simply long for the flavour of rogue Juniper berries dancing a hot tango on your tongue (and if that’s you too - save yourself some time and add Awesome Source to your cart).
Here’s how to know if you’re ready to swipe left on a botanical soulmate.
Juniper is the most important botanical in gin. It comes from a coniferous tree that grows wild in the British Isles and other parts of Europe, Asia and North America. Juniper is a woodsy, piney flavour with notes of citrus and floral overtones. It's what makes gin "gin". A good non-alcoholic gin will possess a distinct Juniper top-note, hitting your tongue lightning-fast upon drinking.
Juniper’s aroma can be overpowering if overused, so it’s often balanced with other flavours such as coriander, angelica root or cassia bark - all of which contain similar aromatic oils to juniper but with different ratios of essential oils. This makes them more suitable for adding complexity without overpowering the drink.
Spices are an important part of the gin world. There’s no limit to what can be used. We recommend looking for middle and base notes that add complexity and character, such as coriander and anise like in Awesome Source, or even cubeb (an Indonesian pepper).
Citrus notes are common in gin. Lemon peel for example, adds a subtle and complex dimension of brightness that helps balance out juniper's piney profile. In Awesome Source G&Ts, lemon peel and bitter orange help settle your tickled tastebuds after a good hit of Mediterranean juniper.
Citrus can also create astringent notes that cut through sweetness. For a refreshing gin cocktail, (and that’s really the point of a gin and tonic, isn’t it?), citrus is often the unsung hero. Our tip: seek a gin full of botanicals and citrus, or if citrus is your zest-friend, add extra lemon, orange or grapefruit to your gin and tonic.
4. Gums or Fillers
Distillers will choose various elements that make their spirit unique, and viscosity can be replicated via gums as an important part of the drinking experience. For the record, we don’t add anything to our cocktails, leveraging other techniques such as spice and carbonation to complete your G&T experience. But non-alcoholic gins do use fillers and gums to thicken the liquid. Xantham gum is a common example (and also a common food additive), but take note of what ‘else’ lies in your non alcoholic gin before deciding which one you prefer.
If you’re staring at a shelf of non-alcoholic G&Ts, consider the fizz-factor. Why? Carbonation changes flavour, or according to our friends at Strange Love sodas, it IS the flavour. Every RTD is created differently including the bubble-factor. We’ve opted for the equivalent of a HOT on the Nandos Peri Peri scale, meaning it’s slightly fizzier than your regular RTD. This helps the botanicals dance on your tongue, lifting the various flavours up, up and around. And you wouldn't believe the number of batches it took to get something like carbonation right. Too many.
Our tip: See how fizziness affects your preferred gin taste. If you like a milder, non-descript option then definitely avoid Awesome Source, or simply try sparkling water.