Alchemists experimented for hundreds of years in an attempt to transform base metals into gold. Unfortunately, aside from the many great medicines, chemical processes, experimental techniques, and even distillation equipment they created and honed, their shared objective of producing gold was never realised.
Much the same could be said about non-alcoholic gin.
Without a particle accelerator and heaps of energy, you probably won’t be able to replicate the taste of gin without the use of ethanol.
For those of you who want to learn more, we’ve broken down some of the key things you need to know about gin and non-alcoholic gin, including what they are, how they’re made and why we believe that attaining a truly believable non-alcoholic gin is almost as improbable as turning lead into gold.
What is gin?
Gin is a neutral spirit that has been made through the process of distillation and flavoured with juniper berries and other botanicals. It’s traditionally made from grain mash, although many other agricultural ingredients are commonly used nowadays, such as grapes, apples and potatoes.
These raw materials are fermented and then distilled to create a spirit, otherwise known as vodka! Some producers may even skip the initial steps of gin creation and simply buy ready-made vodka. Either way, the flavour is then added via compounding or re-distilling in the presence of botanicals, which must include juniper berry.
Gin has a fascinating history involving the Thirty Year War (1618-1648), “Dutch Courage”, secret gin houses and booming death rates in London. If you are interested, we implore you to learn more here!
What does gin taste like?
The taste of gin will vary with each brand but the juniper berry, which is actually not a berry, provides gin with its sharp, piney and resinous flavour. Depending on the additional botanicals and aromatics used (e.g. fruits, seeds, roots and herbs), gin can also exhibit flavours of citrus, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and much much more.
Of course, there is also the prominent kick of ethanol, which tastes both sweet and bitter, experienced alongside the notorious alcoholic warming sensation.
The difference between taste and flavour
In his iconic book “Flavour”, Bob Holmes states a clear difference between “taste” and “flavour”. We seriously recommend you give it a read if you’re passionate about food and drink! Anyway, according to Holmes:
Taste implies the effect food or drink has on your pallet. In other words, is it sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami? It can also describe the kick you get from ethanol in alcoholic gin, as well as the feelings it promotes.
On the other hand, whilst drinking gin, flavour describes the aromas and combinations of botanicals you experience.
What is non-alcoholic gin?
Gin but with 0% alcohol? Not quite.
Some non-alcoholic gins are made using the process of maceration, where botanicals are steeped in a liquid to extract their flavours. This may or may not involve the use of alcohol in the production process. Learn more about maceration here.
Many other NoLo gins share a similar production process to alcoholic gins, whereby a neutral grain spirit and botanicals are added to a still before undergoing numerous rounds of distillation until all of the alcohol is removed.
This latter type of non-alcoholic gin may sound like gin with 0% alcohol so let us explain how it’s different.
Does non-alcoholic gin taste like gin?
Whilst the initial production process mentioned above features similar distillation steps and often produces a non-alcoholic spirit that shares many of the same flavours as gin, the removal of ethanol means that the familiar taste is lacking. So no, non-alcoholic gin doesn’t “taste” like gin.
The maceration process, whilst a fantastic method to extract flavour, also lacks the complexities that the distillation of alcohol brings to your favourite spirit. Although it does well to transform the mouthfeel of a liquid, creating a textural sensation on the tongue not dissimilar to alcohol. Therefore, non-alcoholic gin can exhibit many similar flavours to gin.
Is CROSSIP Fresh Citrus a gin alternative?
Whilst creating CROSSIP, there was never any wish to turn base ingredients into an unobtainable liquid. Carl (Founder of CROSSIP) was intent on creating the taste that delivers the complexities required for the base of a great drink.
Non-alcoholic cocktails (NOT MOCKTAILS) should excite us and invigorate the senses, which is why we have strived to create something that does not imitate. Taste, texture, and depth are incredibly important to us, so you won’t find any non-alcoholic gin at CROSSIP. Instead, Fresh Citrus is a non-alcoholic spirit with a complex and bright fusion of citrus, herbs and spices. Yes, it shares many of the same flavours as gin, thanks to the botanicals, but it’s entirely unique in its taste.
Why don’t you give it a try and see what you think?
Read our related blog: does non-alcoholic whiskey taste like whiskey?