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Can a Spirit be Non-Alcoholic?

'can a spirit be non alcoholic?'

Instagram Trolls, we challenge you to a duel - may the best side win!

So, naysayers, choose your, we’re kidding (kind of). We’re not trying to turn this blog into a spirited fight (get it?), so put those vodka-filled water pistols down!

We’re an alcohol-free brand called CROSSIP and we make non-alcoholic macerated spirits. Yep, that’s right, “spirits”.

“But these can’t be spirits,” we see you type, “they’re not alcoholic!”

That’s why we wanted to write this article, to really get into the fundamentals of why we’re correct in calling our products non-alcoholic spirits. We know you’re an intelligent bunch, which is why you (hopefully) know the difference between a hot dog and a feverish canine, so it can’t be that difficult to distinguish between an alcoholic spirit and a non-alcoholic spirit (*sharp intake of breath* first splash of vodka to the face discharged)!

Seriously though, we know that CROSSIP is not always going to be the best fit for everyone. But it’s important for us to be honest and transparent when it comes to our products, so we’re breaking down exactly why we call our products non-alcoholic macerated spirits.

'can a spirit be non alcoholic?'

Keep reading to find out how CROSSIP is made, the etymology of the word “spirit”, our reasons for using apparently disputed terminology, and discover how a change in legislation has positively affected us!


The origin of “spirit”

Many claim the word “spirit” (in the context of alcohol) stems from the word “al-ġūl”, which is found in the Quran, verse 37:47. See the similarities between al-ġūl and alcohol?

Well, the Arabic word “ġūl” is defined as “demon” or “spirit” (it’s where we get the English word “ghoul” from) and is used in the Quran with the “al” prefix to reference a wine that causes intoxication.

Of course, as with many words, there is some confusion over the real origin, with others claiming it comes from the Arabic word “al-kohl” which refers to eyeliner made through the process of sublimation (similar to distillation)!

Whatever the truth may be, the real origin and use of the word “spirit” are matters we can’t prove for certain and are therefore open to interpretation.

The word “spirit” is evolving

Anyone who has had a chat with a 14 year old will know that language grows and evolves all the time. In fact, experts say that the Internet has significantly increased the rate of language change and adaptations “mirror the complexity with which our lives intertwine with technology”.

These adaptations can include new words and phrases but we also, more frequently, take old words and use them in a new way. For example, “mouse” can be used to describe a small squeaky animal that likes cheese but it’s also used to describe a popular computer accessory. Even the word “spirit” was probably borrowed from the Arabic word for a demonic creature!

'can a spirit be non alcoholic?'

Clear distinctions

Much like meat vs. plant-based meat, car vs. autonomous car, and cigarette vs. e-cigarette, there is a clear distinction between spirit and non-alcoholic spirit.

We’re an honest bunch at CROSSIP and we have no wish to deceive you into thinking we sell alcohol, which is why we’ve got terms such as non-alcoholic, alcohol-free, and 0% alcohol plastered all over our website, social media channels, email newsletters, and brand packaging!

We have also made a concerted effort to not encroach on passing off as gin, rum or whiskey, as we recognise these have clear definitions that we believe, as drinks lovers, should be protected. To learn more about our thoughts on this, have a read of our blog: Does Alcohol-Free Whiskey Actually Taste Like Whiskey?

Consumer point of view

If we handed you a bottle of something that said “macerated liquid” on the label, would you know what to do with it?

Probably not.

From a consumer point of view, we want to ensure it is clear how to use our product. Like we said earlier, we strive to be transparent. If we did not use the word “spirit”, we risk someone thinking they could drink it neat...they would certainly experience a stimulating surprise!

It is our responsibility to be clear and avoid being misleading. 

'can a spirit be non alcoholic?'

Perception and Usage

CROSSIP can be used to make all sorts of incredible non-alcoholic beverages, including These Spooky Halloween Cocktails and This Non-Alcoholic Negroni!

Our non-alcoholic spirits are designed to be used in small measures (25ml) and are meant to be mixed. While you can argue “cordial” conveys the same message, it is used less frequently in a cocktail bar/restaurant context, which is where CROSSIP resides.

We could attempt to redefine the category, but we would risk confusing consumers by using an invented word that is not freely recognised. Similar to how “oat milk” does not have its own invented word, but instead uses the word “milk” to easily convey to the consumer how it should be served.

Product discovery (i.e. SEO)

It’s also unlikely that anyone searching for alcohol-free products that can be used in the same way as spirits (e.g. to make these awesome non-alcoholic Christmas cocktails) would come across a product referred to as “macerated liquids” on Google.

In other words, the word “spirit” is key for our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), as we know that it is what the consumer searches for when looking for alcohol-free products.

'can a spirit be non alcoholic?'

Industry Terminology

EU Legislation

To avoid confusion for consumers, the EU comes up with various legislations for industries to adhere to. In the case of the drinks industry, alcohol labelling must be as follows:

“A spirit drink is an alcoholic beverage that has a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 15%” REGULATION (EU) 2019/787

We’d like to point out two things…

  1. We’re no longer in the EU.
  2. A lot has changed since 2019, particularly in the drinks industry, and legislation is adapted all the time to keep up with the modern-day.

As an industry, we are challenging production processes and pushing the boundaries on how to make liquids. For that reason should we narrow a broad term such as “spirit” to only one method?

Trust us when we say that if we could think of another word to use that was new and unique but still made it clear to everyone what our product is used for, we would have done so. If it were up to Tim (CROSSIP’s fabulous Co-Founder), we would have called the products Geoff...well, a Geoff and Tonic does have a certain ring to it, right?

So, why does CROSSIP use the word “spirit”?

In summary:

  • The origin of the word “spirit” is up for debate.
  • The meanings of words change all the time anyway, particularly in response to the evolution of industries.
  • We’ve clearly labelled all of our products “non-alcoholic spirits” and we know you’re an intelligent enough bunch to tell the difference between that term and “alcoholic spirits”.
  • We want our customers to find our products easily and to immediately know how to use them (e.g. to use in cocktails to moderate your drinking).
  • There’s got to be something good to come out of Brexit, right? Like being able to call our products non-alcoholic macerated spirits!
  • We interpret “spirit” as the base for a cocktail or mixed drink, to be used in small measures (whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic).
  • And, well...because we can!

P.s. Did we win the fight?

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