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Whiskey is one of the most well-known drinks for a relaxing evening. Its smoky, sweet, and deep flavors are always a winner for many liquor enthusiasts. But what if the alcohol is removed from the formula? Would whiskey still be good?
That’s what we’re about to find out as we go over the best alcohol-free whiskeys! These drinks utilize special ingredients and methods to create the flavors and aromas of whiskey but leave out the alcohol. If you want to learn more about these awesome whiskey alternatives, read on!
Our Top Picks
Drink Monday has been around since 2019 and already has an established market. One of the many appeals of Drink Monday beverages is they’re not only free of alcohol, but they’re also completely free of calories, gluten, and sugar and are vegan-friendly.
Among their best offerings is their zero-alcohol whiskey, handcrafted in small batches. It is created in Southern California by master distillers and bourbon makers who have won multiple awards for their work.
Our favorite thing about this whiskey is its convincing bite and afterburn, reminiscent of real whiskey. The nose and flavors are also pronounced, making it a great sipper. It would also go great in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Whiskey Sour.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Molasses, burnt caramel, coffee, cinnamon, herbal tea, raisin
Related: Peach Whiskey Sour And Other Recipes
Spiritless was established by experts in the event management industry who had keen eyes for inclusivity and business opportunities. In 2020, they began searching for an alternative spirit to keep their non-drinker guests captivated throughout lengthy events.
The founders never really intended to let Kentucky 74 take the place of an authentic Kentucky bourbon. Instead, the idea is to provide a non-alcoholic alternative that may be used in place of bourbon in making temperance drinks.
The bourbon starts as a high-proof neutral grain spirit infused with wood of varying chars. Then, the alcohol is removed via reverse distillation. This results in a pleasant mixture of oaky and sweet flavors that are good enough neat but better when mixed with bourbon mixers.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: 0.5% | Tasting Notes: Oak, flowers, spices, caramel, corn, vanilla
Related: How Is Bourbon Made?
There are three people behind Ritual Zero Proof – married couple Marcus and GG Sakey and Marcus’ best friend David Crooch.
They established their company in 2019 and were interested in making something that smelled, looked, tasted, and burned like alcoholic drinks using botanicals. Eventually, they became one of the most recognized brands in the non-alcoholic spirits industry.
Among their spirit alternatives is whiskey, which is gluten-free and non-GMO. We recommend it if you are big on making high-quality non-alcoholic whiskey cocktails with a deep smoky flavor. This is owing to its luscious body and pleasing heat.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, casky, fruits, caramel
Related: What Are Non-Alcoholic Spirits?
Everything about Gnista is revolutionary, from the carefully curated ingredients and skillful blending to the innovative use of techniques like maceration, steam distillation, and smoking. No wonder they’re one of the best NA spirits brands.
One of their well-loved products is the Barreled Oak, their second introduced offering. Moreover, we commend the brand even more for putting so much thought into its blends.
Ingredients, including beet syrup, rhubarb juice, fruit, dried spices, and numerous botanical distillates, can be found in each glass. The resulting flavors are deep, woodsy, and rich, perfect for sipping.
Country of Origin: Sweden | ABV: 0.35% | Tasting Notes: Baking spices, chocolate, raisin, rye, molasses
Related: How Swedish Startup GNISTA Is Redefining Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Free Spirits is situated in California’s Marin County, and they are setting out to produce alcohol-free alternatives that are better suited for use in mixed drinks. Try their whiskey with sparkling drinks like cola or ginger ale!
Furthermore, the bourbon is praised for having close characteristics with the real thing. An almost alcoholic whiskey aroma greets your nose at first, accompanied by soft notes of sweet vanilla.
Tastewise, it boasts the rich sweetness from toffee and brown sugar, which are easily carried out, thanks to its round mouthfeel. We also appreciate that it’s blended with natural amino acids and B vitamins that can enhance the drinker’s mood.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: <0.5% | Tasting Notes: Toasted oak, almonds, brown sugar, vanilla
Related: Ginger Beer Vs. Ginger Ale
Lyre’s ensures that only premium ingredients are used in making their spirits. We also like that they make them free from dairy, eggs, nuts, and gluten, perfect for accommodating a wide range of consumers with dietary restrictions or preferences!
Their American Malt has strong scents of charred oak and burnt sugar, with a hint of medicinal quality. Furthermore, the aftertaste reminds us of sweetened beverages, the initial flavor being malt beer.
While its overall taste is decent, it could use more depth to be consumed on its own. That’s why it’s better off mixed with liqueurs and other mixers to create a more complex flavor profile.
Country of Origin: UK | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Brown sugar, nuts, caramel, oak, pepper
Related: The Best Cordials For Cocktails
The Sexy AF brand advertises its products as mocktail ingredients, not stand-alone drinks. One of their products is the Friski Whiski, which is a fantastic base for a non-alcoholic Manhattan and other whiskey drinks.
Sexy AF’s founder Jo-Anne Reynolds wants this spirit to be as healthy as possible and inclusive of certain diets, so she made sure to make it vegan, kosher, and free from gluten, sugar, and allergens.
We also appreciate that it’s low-carb and low-calorie, thanks to the blend’s organic botanicals and natural ingredients. Evidently, Reynolds did a pretty good job with this drink, as it garnered double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Country of Origin: Canada | ABV: <0.5% | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, honey, kola nut, herbs, allspice
Highland Malt is Lyre’s first take on a non-alcoholic whiskey and is inspired by Highland whiskies. It was carefully crafted to emulate the unique character of a blended malt whiskey, so if you’re a Scotch fan, we recommend that you try this bottle!
This alcohol-free whiskey is the brainchild of David Murphy, the flavor architect at Lyre. While the company focuses on making this drink whisky-style, it doesn’t forget that it’s non-alcoholic. This is why they ensure their Highland Malt still has a distinct and unique flavor.
This award-winning spirit has a light honey color with an amazing oaky flavor and a little earthiness. It can be sipped neat, enjoyed on the rocks, or mixed into traditional cocktails.
Country of Origin: UK | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Rich toffee, oak, cedar, vanilla, nutty grains
Related: Scotch Whisky Regions
WHISSIN, a brand that Arkay Beverages acquired in 2021, exists proudly as the world’s first Mexican American alternative to whiskey. It seeks to capture the true flavor and essence of the spirit by utilizing various all-natural botanicals.
It was also recognized as a global innovation that made the drink a winner of the 1998 SIAL D’OR award. This whiskey alternative is mainly made of wheat, maize, and barley. The mixture is then heated without reaching the point of fermentation, so no alcohol is formed.
In terms of flavor, its sweetness makes it similar to a soft drink minus the carbonation. It has a bit of spice but not enough to create an afterburn. We recommend diluting it with ice or sparkling water and adding bitters for more flavor.
Country of Origin: Spain | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Oak, coffee, corn, barley, wheat
Related: The Best Sparkling Water Brands
One of the most recent companies to enter the non-alcoholic drinks market is Escape Mocktails. This company brings a complete collection of premixed mocktails, liqueurs, and non-alcoholic spirits, including their Single Malt Scotch.
Its aromas exude earthy flavors and aromas of caramel, oak, fruit, and some undertones of vanilla, which are also present in the taste. We adore how the flavors on the palate are far more noticeable than the aromas.
And unlike most brands, this one gives a pleasant burning sensation in the mouth, enhancing the flavors. Whether with ice or club soda, this whiskey delivers.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: <0.5%| Tasting Notes: Oak, malt, smoke, vanilla, earthy
Related: Club Soda Vs. Seltzer Vs. Sparkling Water
If you’re looking for a high-quality alternative to Scotch Whisky, look no further than Sans Bar Kings of Tartan. In addition to being alcohol-free, it also has no gluten, sugar, or artificial sweeteners; plus, it’s vegan and low in calories.
It has a strong smoky, malty flavor and is characterized by a long, warm finish. Its mouthfeel is similar to its alcoholic counterpart, complemented with a bitter bite. It is great on its own, on the rocks, or with your go-to mixer.
Country of Origin: Australia | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Oak, malt, spices
Related: The Best Scotch Cocktails
Glen Dochus West Coast Blend is an expertly blended botanical beverage from Scotland. Like most non-alcoholic spirits, it is also sugar-free, low-calorie, and vegan.
The brand intends to represent the rich qualities of Scotland by sourcing water that runs through the granite mountains of the Scottish Cairngorms. They have been practicing this for more than five decades.
To create precise aromas and mouthfeel, Glen Dochus uses an innovative extraction method to obtain the standards of alcohol from aged casks. To make the most out of this full-bodied drink, we recommend drinking it with a few drops of water or on the rocks.
Country of Origin: Scotland | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Smoky, sweet biscuit, caramel, apricot
Related: The Best Scotch Glasses
Flavored whiskeys are a fun alternative to make whiskey less intimidating and open to all types of drinkers. Spiritless offers their Kentucky 74 SPICED as a contender among flavored whiskeys.
This variation is similar to Spiritless’ famous Kentucky 74 but spiked with a lot of cinnamon to add kick and flavor. Just like all of their products, this was created via proprietary reverse distillation.
This non-alcoholic spirit will make you feel cozy with its baking spices and vanilla flavors. You can enjoy this any way you want, as it’s refined enough to blend well in a complex mocktail but also smooth to be enjoyed straight.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: 0.5% | Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, vanilla, baking spices, apple pie
Brian Miller founded Seir Hill in a barn in Wilton, Connecticut, and his passion for non-alcoholic spirits is rooted in his decision to stop drinking for a healthier lifestyle. He opted for NA options, but they were never close to the real thing. So he decided to make one himself.
It took him and his team about a hundred recipes before they could perfect their blend. They also made sure their drinks were free from sugar, nuts, calories, and gluten by using only natural ingredients.
This drink is aromatic and very smooth, which explains why it does very well in a mocktail. Plus, it has a mouthfeel and warmth that are similar to an alcoholic whiskey. Miller likes using it for a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned.
Country of Origin: USA | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Clove, charred oak, apple cider, sweet corn
The next time you want to indulge in whiskey but don’t want to deal with alcohol, try the best alcohol-free whiskeys! And when you do, make sure to have an open mind so you can assess the flavors better and enjoy them more.
For this post, Monday Zero Alcohol Whiskey is our top pick because it has the closest resemblance to whiskey in terms of aromas, flavors, texture, and bite.
Which whiskey are you most eager to try? Let us know in the comments below.
Best Alcohol-Free Whiskey – What To Look For
Shopping for alcohol-free whiskey can require some adjustment, especially if you’re used to the alcoholic version. So, allow these factors to guide you in your choices.
There are multiple types of whiskey – depending on the grain used, where it is made, the process employed, and more. But, when it comes to the alcohol-free version, there isn’t much variety because producers are mainly concerned with mimicking the flavor profiles of whiskey.
Technically, alcohol-free or non-alcoholic whiskey can’t be legally called “whiskey” because its lack of alcohol doesn’t meet the required ABV a true whiskey should have. Instead, these are labeled as “whiskey alternatives” or “spirit.”
However, some brands offer bourbon, rye, single malt Scotch, blended, and cinnamon-flavored whiskey. It may be just to emphasize that their product is made similarly to their alcoholic counterparts. You may pick any of these if you have a preferred whiskey type.
Normally, whiskey production is bound by certain rules and regulations. For instance, bourbon must be made from a mash with no less than 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.
Such rules are not applicable to alcohol-free whiskeys, and producers generally have the freedom to use any method they think is best. Usually, non-alcoholic spirits use botanicals and other compounds to mimic the flavors of alcohol.
It’s common to individually distill herbs and spices to produce natural extracts and essential oils. These are then blended with water, sweeteners, and other flavorings to achieve the complexities of whiskey, including smokiness, fruitiness, vanilla, caramel, and spiciness.
Another method involves distilling a neutral grain spirit, then distilling again to remove the alcohol. The mixture is then blended with flavorings and essences to create the final product.
Alcohol-free whiskey can still be aged in oak barrels to develop deeper flavors that resemble real whiskey.
Both methods are excellent at recreating whiskey’s classic flavors, but the dealcoholization still contains less than 0.5% alcohol. If you want to have 0% ABV whiskey, choose those that are made using the first method.
Since alcohol carries flavor, there will be missing aspects of the alcohol-free versions. But this doesn’t preclude anyone from enjoying a glass of whiskey without alcohol.
It’s very difficult to mimic the ethanol feel of whiskey, so producers make up for it with tastes, aromas, and texture. Some bottles closely resemble the complexities of whiskey, while others only have certain notes and flavors.
The most common attributes of whiskeys are smoky, sweet, malty, fruity, peaty, and spicy, which may be present in aromas and taste. For the texture, it is usually silky, smooth, and thick. If an alcohol-free whiskey possesses these characteristics, chances are whiskey drinkers will enjoy it more.
Furthermore, Timo Torner, founder, and bartender at Cocktail Society, advises, “Always make sure to check what you try to replace. Are you looking for a mocktail ingredient or a sipper? Do you want an alternative to sweet bourbon, spicy rye, or smoky Scotch whisky?”
Those with more complexities or specific types, like Scotch, may be better as sippers to slowly savor their deep flavors. Other whiskeys that are not as strong will make great mocktail bases because they blend well with other mixers rather than overpower them.
The absence of alcohol makes alcohol-free whiskey a healthier alternative because there will be less sugar and calories. Also, because it is not a depressant, drinkers can have better sleep quality and won’t have hangovers.
However, some bottles may still contain added sugars or artificial flavorings. So, it’s best to always check the label on the bottles so you can assess them better.
Most alcohol-free whiskeys are in the low and middle price range, but whether they are worth it depends on how the drinker perceives them. Some may say that $30 is too much for an average-tasting bottle. So, it’s still important to set a budget for these products.
Best Alcohol-Free Whiskeys FAQ
1. Does alcohol-free whiskey actually taste like whiskey?
The taste is more of a likeness rather than a replication. While some bottles are able to capture an alcoholic whiskey’s sweetness or oakiness, their flavors will still seem incomplete compared to alcoholic whiskey. Nevertheless, they still taste very good and provide many benefits.
2. Does alcohol-free whiskey expire?
Since alcohol-free whiskeys don’t have alcohol, which is a preservative, their shelf life is limited. Most bottles will display a best-by date on the labels, which can be up to two years when unopened.
However, an opened bottle will start to degrade faster and have until about three months before they go bad.
3. Does non-alcoholic whiskey still burn?
Some producers use capsaicin, a chemical responsible for making chili peppers hot, for mimicking the alcohol burn that we get from drinking spirits. Some bottles give this feeling but are not as pronounced as alcoholic drinks.
4. What happens when you go alcohol-free?
If you decide to abstain from alcohol for good, your well-being will be in better status. You may lose weight, sleep better, have better mental health, reduce risks of various diseases, have glowing skin, and be more hydrated and active.
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