Seven of the best non-alcoholic spirits to help get you through Dry January

Whether you’re doing it for health reasons or simply for a New Year’s challenge, giving up alcohol isn’t necessarily all that easy. To help you on your way, the Country Life office put a variety of non-alcoholic spirits to the test. Here’s what we found.

From the very first glass of wine, proffered by a watchful parent at Sunday lunch, to the ensuing years of experimentation and excess (often with messy consequences), learning to drink is a rite of passage, at least in the Western world. But according to a 2019 survey by Drinkaware, the UK’s largest recent study of drinking behaviours, the proportion of adults who drink alcohol at least once a week has decreased by 4% since 2015. It’s young people who are driving down the numbers: 58% of adults aged between 55 and 74 drink at least once a week, compared with 30% of 16–24 year olds.

Drinks brands have responded and, in recent years, a mass of new non-alcoholic drinks companies have sprung up, seemingly from nowhere, with overwhelming success (Pentire; Seedlip) and even mega-brands, such as Heineken and Gordon’s, have jumped on the bandwagon, producing alcohol-free versions of their already well-known beers and spirits, not wanting to be left behind.

It was an investment worth making. Spurred on by Generation Z’s reluctance to drink and everyone else’s efforts, sales of alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers were up £171 million in 2021 compared with 2016. The ‘low-and-no’ market is expected to be worth more than £400 million in 2024.

What makes a fantastic non-alcoholic spirit? It should be as tasty and as complex as its alcoholic counterpart and work well with mixers and in cocktails. Cheers to that!

Pentire Seaward

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What they say ‘A botanical non-alcoholic spirit made by distilling unique plants native to our coastline in Cornwall.’ It’s meant to taste zesty, verdant and bright, with key botanicals of pink grapefruit, sea rosemary, woodruff, sea buckthorn and wild seaweed. It’s plant-based, low-calorie and completely alcohol free.

What we say ‘I’m getting quite a buzz from it,’ announced Giles Kime, a non-alcoholic beer expert, excitedly at the office tasting. ‘Very easy to drink; soft,’ said Emily Anderson. Another correctly identified the citrusy notes—‘more orange than lemon’. An all-round favourite and excellent alternative to a fruity G&T.

From £13 a bottle (

Seedlip Garden 108

What they say ‘A floral blend of peas and hay with traditional garden herb distillates. To make a delicious non-alcoholic drink, pour 50ml of Seedlip Garden 108 over ice, top with tonic and garnish with a sugar snap pea or mint sprig.’ Other ingredients include spearmint and hops. It’s vegan, allergy friendly, calorie and sugar free.

What we say The general consensus among the staff was that Seedlip Garden 108 smelled exactly like a garden and tasted even better. ‘Strong and potent,’ said someone; ‘a good alternative to Pimm’s,’ said another. ‘You can imagine drinking this with a pea frittata in the summer,’ said Amie Elizabeth White, rather wistfully.

From £20 a bottle from The Bar (

Salcombe Distillery New London First Light

What they say ‘This bold and refreshing non-alcoholic spirit combines juniper, ginger, habanero, orange and sage.’ It was the winner of the 2021 People’s Choice Spirits Award in the Mindful Drinking category and won a 2021 Beverage Testing Institute Gold award in the Conscious Spirits category. For every bottle sold, Salcombe Distillery donates 1% of the retail price to the Marine Conservation Society.

What we say ‘Like alcohol without the burn,’ said Tiffany Daneff; ‘Nice with lots of ice and lots of lemon,’ said Hetty Lintell. Everyone noted the clean, modern bottle design with its sail-shaped label (a nod to Salcombe’s nautical heritage) and agreed that it smelled sensational (sharp, rather than sweet).

From £25 a bottle at Amazon

CleanCo Clean G gin alternative

What they say ‘Our take on London Dry Gin. Aromatic botanical ingredients, including real juniper.’ After debuting a new and improved recipe in 2021, CleanCo’s Clean G achieved gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. CleanCo is the brainchild of Spencer Matthews (his brother, James, is married to Pippa Middleton), who decided to embrace sobriety after the birth of his first child, following cycles of excessive drinking during his twenties, when he starred in Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea.

What we say We liked the bottle (again) — reminiscent of traditional green gin bottles. ‘It’s clean, crisp and fresh and a really good replacement for proper gin,’ noted Emily, who likened it to another popular brand and suggested serving it with wedges of frozen lime.

From £16 a bottle (

Gordon’s Premium Pink Alcohol Free

What they say ‘Delivering the bold taste of Gordon’s balanced with raspberry and strawberry flavours, Gordon’s Pink 0% is expertly created to deliver all the taste, but none of the alcohol.’ The spirit contains no more than 0.015% ABV.

What we say Despite smelling and tasting sweet (‘like squash or sweets’; this isn’t for someone who prefers savoury or citrus flavours), the team agreed that it had a surprisingly dry texture. A good alternative to a summer-berry cocktail.

From £15.50 from Tesco (

Three Spirit Drinks Nightcap

What they say ‘This indulgent elixir is made with tree saps, aromatic plants and ancient remedies used to relax and unwind. Enjoy complex notes of wood and bright spice with a calm, dreamy feeling.’ There are no artificial colours or flavours and it’s vegan and gluten free.

What we say A favourite with the male members of the team. ‘That’ll do,’ said James Fisher, retreating to a corner with a full glass. ‘I like it,’ said Ben Harris. Men of few words. After some coaxing, they went on to say that they thought, of all the samples, Nightcap tasted the most like alcohol and had a good kick and warming burn to it.

From £24.99 a bottle (

Fluère Smoked Agave

What they say ‘Fluère Smoked Agave is distilled from real Agave. We add smoked hickory wood to give that smoky, earthy richness that goes with it. Mix it with some cola for a treat or grapefruit juice and soda for a fresh zinger.’ The brand’s original offerings included a raspberry-flavoured spirit that used floral botanicals once consumed by the Roman legions (who believed it kept them fit and healthy).

What we say The word ‘smoky’ came up over and over again. ‘Smoky, followed by a fresh, menthol-y end,’ proffered Hetty; ‘similar to a smoky margarita,’ said Rosie Paterson. We liked the idea of it served over ice with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice and sugar syrup.

From £18 from Amazon (