Alcohol-free Whisk(e)y

Ok. Here we are. Alcohol-free whisky.
I'm not sure where to start with this, but let's discuss the alcohol free "alternative" for whisky.

Lyre's American Malt

Yes, that is an alcohol-free whisky on that image. And yes, I tried it.
And yes, I bought it myself.
Now normally, I would have placed a review under the section "
drinking whisky", but in this case, I will not.
Two reasons:
1) This is not a whisky.
2) I thought I had to discuss alcohol-free whisky.

First, let's start with why I bought it. In short: Stupidity.
I spotted an online deal at a webshop for a nice single malt, but that specific store had an insane ly high shipping fee. Unless I spend ten euro's more, for free shipping.
In a hurry, because I had to get somewhere, place the kid in the carseat, get the diaper bag and the stroller , I sorted the store's whisky collection on low-high in price, and selected the cheapest bottle on the list that would get me at that missing ten euro. It was €11,50 if I remember correctly, on sale.

In a rush, I selected the bottle with a bear with a cowboy hat on and I just read 'American Malt'. "Must be a bourbon type or something," I thought, "Let's get it and see what it is."

So my order arrived and I went straight for the bottle of single malt that I wanted in the first place. Placing it on the shelve with the other pearls in my collection. And the other bottle was not given much attention and placed in the kitchen.
A couple of weeks later, I fancied an Old Fashioned and needed bourbon. So I remembered I had this bottle, grabbed it and openend it.
And was a bit stunned. The aroma coming from the bottle was not at all what I expected. I checked the bottle and realised: This is an alcohol-free bottle.

The value of alcohol in whisky

Now, to explain why I was shocked, a little science is needed in my explanation. Since I'm not good at chemistry, forgive me my way of describing it.
In short: Alcohol has an important role in carrying the aroma's and taste of the whisky.
Take for example guaiacol molecules. These are the particles that give single malts a smokey flavor. And these guaiacol particles bind to the alcohol.
So removing the alcohol, means you do not keep those guaiacol particles, and others, in a liquid the same way as with alcohol.
With that important part that alcohol is playing in the way we smell and taste whisky, could an alcohol-free whisky work?

The verdict

I'm not a fan. For me it was a big no. I kept it, tried it again, and again, but no.
I even shared it with friends, opening a discussion.
It is a very good bottle trying
to capture the essence of a gently mellowed American Classic Bourbon Malt, like Lyre places on its own website.

And, to be fair, Lyre never claims to have made an alcohol-free whisky. They made their own alcohol-free spirit, trying to get as close as they can to the real thing.
And why not? We have a market for alcohol-free cocktails. The rise of alcohol-free gin or beer has risen the last few years. When I have to drive, I like to order a 0.0% beer as well. I made my wife alcohol-free gin-tonics in the summer while she was pregnant. There might be people who do not enjoy their drinks with some spirit flavor. Who find that too strong. But now I can give them an Old Fashioned, or another cocktail, with this alcohol-free spirit, so they can join me in enjoying a drink. Without judgement going both ways.

My lesson learned? Better pay for shipment next time.

The range of Lyre's non-alcoholic spirits