Non-Alcoholic Spirits Are Having Their Day: Here's Why

Drinkers have long been ready for non-alcoholic alternatives to their favourite spirits, but the technology to fulfil their needs has only recently become available, according to Lyre's founder Mark Livings.

Speaking to the Small Business Big Marketing podcast, Mark said the demand for non-alcoholic spirits has risen over the last five years, as consumers everywhere increasingly prioritise health and wellbeing concerns.

"What's really interesting is that the food and beverage technology has also improved considerably in the last five years," he told podcast host, marketing expert Tim Reid.

"So we're now at a really interesting intersection where we can build beverages that are super close to the real thing."

Mark said the improved technology has benefited all categories of non-alcoholic drinks.

Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Spirits founder Mark Livings

"For those of your listeners who've tried the more recent non-alcoholic beers, they're so much better than they were five years ago," he said.

"And that's to do with the technology that's out there."

Mark explained that the Lyre's method of producing non-alcoholic spirits differs to many of the other brands in the sector, which start out as alcoholic spirits.

"How non-alcoholic spirits have traditionally been made is, alcohol's actually got a lower boiling point than water," he said.

"So what happens is you then blend it in with water and you boil it gently, and the alcohol evaporates off, and you're left with a flavoured water."

He said this process has the unfortunate side-effect of denaturing the flavour compounds that give the spirit its complexity.

"You start to pull apart things called fruity esters, or polyphenols. They're the really interesting things that make up the perfume or the bouquet of a spirit, but also its flavour profile," he said.

"You end up with something that's not quite right. You start with this Mozart concerto… [but] you're taking all the violins out, you're taking the woodwind out, and all you're really left with is the brass and the percussion.

"So you're missing all the middle parts of the melody that round out to make a beautiful song in spirits format.

"It's a really limiting way of making non-alcoholic spirits."

The Lyre's difference

By contrast, Lyre's Non Alcoholic Spirits are made by carefully selecting the right combination of essential oils, fruity esters and polyphenols that give spirits their flavour and perfume, and then blending them with a water base.

"We're getting a far better result than our forebears in the industry," said Mark.

"We tracked down one of the foremost global authorities in food and beverage technology.

"They're based out of Germany, and we pitched the idea to them. And they said, 'look, sounds interesting. We'll give it a go. Can you come and help us?'"

Mark recruited Sydney-based sommelier David Murphy to assist in sensory evaluation, and the duo went to Germany to begin developing the Lyre's range.

"My nose and palate's okay for an average bloke. His is extraordinary," Mark told the podcast.

"By utilising a library of over 12,000 different ingredients, courtesy of this company, we built our non-alcoholic spirits brick by brick, flavour note by flavour note and perfume note by perfume note.

"Then we worked on the mouthfeel, and then we worked on the palate weight, and we worked on the length.

"It did take us around 18 to 24 months to get these to the point that we were ready to sell them and could nail our colours to the mast and say, 'we're proud of these, we're confident these are the best non-alcoholic spirits in the world'."

Click here to listen to the full interview with Mark Livings on the Small Business Big Marketing podcast.

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