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An interview with Laori Juniper No 1: How to make non-alcoholic gin

by Yascha Roshani
Team-Bild Laori Juniper No 1

Gin is and remains a trendy drink. But does the enjoyment of gin always have to be associated with alcohol and its sometimes undesirable effects? Not according to Stella and Christian. One evening, Stella wanted a gin and tonic, but simply didn't want the alcohol. Together with Christian, the pair launched Laori in 2019, bringing a serious gin alternative to the market. We spoke to Christian about the production of their alcohol-free gin - in particular about how alcohol can be replaced in the extraction of flavors and how Christian and Stella approached the recipe. You can also find out what we can look forward to next.

OrderLaori Juniper No 1

First things first: During the development of Laori Juniper No 1, how much did you wish that water was just as preservative as alcohol?

It was exactly the challenge I was looking for! I really enjoy developing new products, especially working out different approaches and testing and improving them. If water was as preservative as alcohol, there would probably have been a comparable product on the market before Laori.

I know from many of our gin producers that they often tried out well over 100 different gin recipes until they had their perfect gin. In addition to the recipe, you also had the challenge of the production method. Could you briefly explain to us what is special about alcohol - and what makes it so difficult to work without it?

The difficulty lies primarily in the fact that the perception of smell and taste is very strongly influenced by alcohol. This means that even if the exact same ingredients are in a drink and only the alcohol is omitted, it tastes completely different. Therefore, we had to find out how different botanicals taste in water and how to combine them to create the aroma world of gin - without the alcohol.

How did you ultimately solve the problem for Laori? How do you get the flavors into your alcohol-free gin? I had the pleasure of attending your kick-off party and found Laori Juniper No 1 really delicious.

We're delighted that you like Laori Juniper No 1!

We get the flavors from the same botanicals in our product as in a gin. However, we use a slightly different type of distillation that is based entirely on water. We only use organic quality botanicals and each one is distilled individually. This is the only way we can respond to the individual needs of the herbs and spices and tease out the maximum flavor. We then blend them into our secret recipe to create the unique aroma of Laori.

Laori Juniper entfaltet seine Aromen am besten als Drink
LaoriJuniper unfolds its aromas best as a drink - for example as a gin and tonic

And how did you go about creating the recipe? Is it similar to other gin brands that keep tasting until the flavor is perfect?

It was important to us to bring the flavor world of gin alcohol-free into the bottle. We deliberately refrained from copying a specific product, because every gin tastes unique and should have its own characteristics. That's what makes this category so exciting. In order to develop a product that we and our customers love, we worked in development rounds, just like in software development. I developed prototypes in the technical center, which we then tasted with consumer groups and expert panels. The best version was sent to the next round and optimized accordingly based on the feedback. After several development cycles and hundreds of samples, we found our recipe.

Silly question: Could I use your production method to make any non-alcoholic gin with a different recipe? Or is the method already strongly geared towards your current Laori Juniper No 1?

You can create many other products with our production method. But there are limits and the process has to be adapted depending on the sensory requirements. We are constantly questioning how we can create the best taste experience as efficiently and gently as possible. You always have to be open to new approaches.

What alternatives are there for producing non-alcoholic spirits? Let's say I make a bathtub gin - that is, I throw a few herbs, spices and fruit into neutral alcohol. Are there ways to get the alcohol out later and save the flavor?

In principle, you can of course make a gin and then remove the alcohol. The alcohol is boiled out in a similar way to deglazing a sauce with wine. The problem is that many aromas evaporate with the alcohol, especially those that make up the fresh and typical taste of gin. The taste that remains would then hardly be reminiscent of gin.

For this very reason, we have developed our own way of getting the taste of gin into the bottle without adding alcohol.

Where is Laori Juniper No 1 currently produced?

Our distillates are distilled for us in France according to our requirements in Provence. Laori Juniper No 1 is then finished in Brandenburg, near Berlin.

Christian ist CPO von Laori Drinks
Christian, co-founder and product manager of Laori, spent several hours in the Zurich technical center to extract water-based aromas

You are not allowed to use the term "non-alcoholic gin" on your label. Why is that?

According to the law, the term "gin" is only permitted for spirits with an alcohol content of at least 37.5% alcohol by volume. According to the law, the use of the term "non-alcoholic gin" could mislead the customer and is therefore not permitted. It would be bad if you accidentally woke up without a hangover!

How did you come to make an alcohol-free gin?

The idea came from my co-founder Stella. She was sitting in a bar in Berlin one evening and didn't want to drink alcohol because she wanted to be fit the next day. She didn't fancy all the sweet drinks like sodas or mocktails, and water was just too boring. Then came the cry "I just want a gin and tonic without the alcohol!" She couldn't let go of the idea and Stella began to develop the first prototypes. About six months later, I joined her and we set up Laori together.

Sales in the non-alcoholic beer market have risen rapidly in the last two to three years. How are you monitoring the market trend for non-alcoholic spirits?

There are currently no figures available as the market is only just emerging. In the UK, it's already a bit further along. There, sales in the category have risen from 0 to over 30 million pounds within 3 years. The current growth rate is over 80% per year for the next five years.

Are there already many comparable, non-alcoholic gin alternatives in Germany?

There are already some products on the German market, but there are still only a small number of competitors. We are sure that many more products will come onto the market in the next few years and are looking forward to this development ourselves.

So sieht sie aus, die alkoholfreie Gin-Alternative von Stella und Christian
This is what Stella and Christian's non-alcoholic, flavorful gin alternativelooks like

Do you also see yourselves competing with non-alcoholic wine? The range is growing more and more.

We are about as much in competition with alcohol-free wine as conventional spirits are with alcoholic wine. Both go well with a good evening with friends and complement rather than compete with each other.

What is your drinking recommendation for Laori Juniper No 1?

Our drink has been developed to unfold its full aroma in one drink. We calculate with the other ingredients, such as the carbon dioxide and sugar of the tonic and the acidity of juices, for example. The best way to start is to try it as a Laori & Tonic.

What is the initial feedback from your customers so far?

Our product has been very well received by our customers. We receive great pictures and messages every day. That makes us really happy and motivates us to develop more great products and become even better.

Can we look forward to the next delicious non-alcoholic spirit alternatives?

You can! We are currently developing a non-alcoholic alternative to bourbon whiskey. So you'll soon be able to make an Old Fashioned alcohol-free, which will hopefully become a New Fashioned.

Fancy a round of alcohol-free gin?

Matching products to the article

Laori Juniper No 1 - non-alcoholic alternative to gin
19,90 (€39,80 per l)
Laori Spice No 2 - non-alcoholic rum alternative
19,90 (€39,80 per l)
Laori Ruby No 4 - Non-alcoholic aperitif
16,90 (€33,80 per l)

About the autor:

Yascha Roshani

Yascha Roshani

Mitgründer von Honest & Rare

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Mich begeistern Getränke aller Art. Ob Bier, Gin, Weinbrand, Cold Brew Kaffee oder Limo. Vor allem liebe ich die Kultur, regionalen Bezüge und Herstellung von Getränken. Selbst braue ich ab und an Bier, setze Liköre an und röste Kaffee in der Pfanne.