US$808 billion. That’s the value of the global spirits industry by 2022, as declared in a report by research company Market Line. It’s little wonder then why everyone wants a piece of the pie, and that includes makers of non-alcoholic variants for today’s sobering reality: Teetotaling millennials.
Thanks to this wellness-conscious generation, the popularity of booze-free spirits is set to surge. One only has to look at the success story of Seedlip, a pioneer of the movement that has since reached mainstream status. While it has its fans, it certainly has its detractors who have notoriously likened it to ‘flavoured, herbaceous water’ although it is widely lauded for offering an alternative to syrupy mocktails and fizzy beverages forced upon non-drinkers. If you need further evidence that the non-alcoholic spirit sector is set to boom, enter Lyre’s.
The Australian brand has created the world’s most expansive range of alcohol-free spirits. These 13 alternatives range from amaretto to Negronis. Its quest is simple: “To give you the freedom to drink your drink, your way.” Paul Gloster, CMO of Lyre’s who was present at the media preview, assures us that Lyre’s was made by people who like to drink.
It took founder Mark Livings two years to develop its products. Named after the lyrebird, an Australian bird that’s able to mimic any sound, it promises close impersonations of your favourite spirit — all without an alcohol base.
Unlike its counterparts, such as Seedlip and Heineken’s 0.0 percent beer, Lyre’s spirits are not made via distillation. Instead, they’re made from a combination of natural essences and extracts. It’s decision to forgo this process as the secondary stage of alcohol removal is believed to equate to a flavour deduction. Gloster tells us that a lot of effort goes into curating the essences, extracts and distillates to craft these spirits. Alcohol is not added to the process at all, and is only used where necessary such as extracting flavour from a base item. The ethanol is then boiled off.
That boozy burn
While many non-alcoholic variants boast impressive botanical bouquets and palates, they fail with true impersonation as they are unable to recreate that burning sensation. Mimicking it is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for these makers. Lyre’s counters this by using a mix of fiery flavours that include chilli, pepper, ginger, and capsaicin to imitate that sharp alcoholic burn.
Having tasted three of its spirits in cocktails and served neat, I’ve concluded that the process was pretty successful. The reactions were also unanimous around the table. The Italian Spritz, an alternative for Aperol, boasts the bittersweet flavours of rhubarb and bitter orange with a herbaceous hit. Served as a classic aperitif, chances are you wouldn’t realise that the booze is missing.
The peppery juniper-led Dry London Spirit is made in the style of a London Dry gin, and retains a bitter aftertaste that remains present even when watered down with tonic. The last that we had, the American Malt, is said to boast a near-true flavour profile of a bourbon.
And if you need more reasons to drink Lyre’s spirits, they are low-calorie (its gin alternative has 95 percent less calories than the real deal), vegan, and entirely non-alcoholic. The bottles won’t look out of place in your bar either, as they’re decorated with a touch of art whimsy and are emblazoned with a statement mascot native to each spirit’s country of origin.
Lyre’s will be available in Singapore in mid-March, at Market Place and Cold Storage, and possibly, your favourite bar.