You’re probably no stranger to low and no alcohol wines and spirits. The IWSC experienced a near-400% boost in the number of entries to their low and no alcohol award categories in 2021, with dozens of wine, gin and rum alternatives claiming medals and trophies in the awards.
With an ever-increasing number of people taking part in seasonal events like Dry January and Sober October – and with people cutting down in their drinking – there’s a demand for top-quality alternatives. While most might focus on simply replacing their favourite drink with a non-alcoholic version, there are now plenty of low and no drinks that don’t aim to mimic the mouthfeel of your favourite buttery white or the flavour of a crisp gin and tonic. Instead, these new wave low and no drinks stand out from the crowd and create a whole new world of booze-free imbibing. We’re talking kombucha, kefir, and tea-based sparkling drinks.
Gold-medal-winning entries that stood out from the crowd at the IWSC’s low and no awards included Blå from the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company. The project is led by sommelier Jacob Kocemba, who hand brews tea with a small amount of white wine or grape must to create a sparkling tea that IWSC judges praised for its ‘richness and surprising complexity’.
In a more savoury vein, Agua De Madre‘s top-scoring kefir was acclaimed for its ‘umami aromas’ and ‘layers of fresh, citrus pith and creaminess.’ The family-run company’s kefir uses live cultures to create a cloudy drink that’s brewed in small batches in London.
New wave producers on this list also include Finnish brand Kåska, whose marmalade-fragranced kombucha scored 92 points. Kåska donates 15% of its profits to grassroots social impact projects, which might further boost the feelgood factor when drinking.
All low and no alcohol drinks were assessed at a dedicated tasting, with judges including Laura Willoughby, founder of mindful drinking community Club Soda, and Christine Parkinson, founder of low and no consultancy Brimful Drinks.
Read on to discover six low and no alcohol drinks with a difference from the IWSC 2021.
Six award-winning low and no alcohol drinks
- Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company, Blå; Denmark. 96/100
- Flor de Madre, Agua de Madre Water Kefir; England. 96/100
- Crossip, Dandy Smoke; England. 96/100
- Lyre’s, Pink London Spirit; Australia. 93/100
- Kåska, Smål Boosted Kombucha; Finland. 92/100
- Foxtrot Beverages, Svami Gin & Tonic; India. 92/100
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE LOW AND NO ALCOHOL DRINKS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous low and no alcohol tasting process. That means that each drink sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC low and no judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the alcohol-free drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE LOW AND NO ALCOHOL DRINKS?
Only the best low and no alcohol drinks sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver winners range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
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