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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

No and low drinks: What’s trending?

Some of the most exciting activity within drinks is happening within the No and Low category at the moment, with a steady stream of new launches and innovation. Producers in this space are exploring functional ingredients, fermentation and more, offering more choice than ever for those looking to moderate.

Functional ingredients in no & low drinks

A growing trend in No and Low is the addition of various functional ingredients. Among these, GABA Spirits is particularly ambitious. Created by Professor David Nutt, this range of non-alcoholic spirits aims to replicate the good effects of alcohol, without the downsides. The ingredients in the range are said to activate GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for sociability.

The GABA spirits team recently added a second variant to the range. The new Sentia Black, has been created to bring about a different mood to the original Sentia Red. While Red is “to help you relax, connect, and harmonise”, and aimed at “after-work intimate drinks and to wind-down for the weekend", the new Black is “for focus and conviviality”, targeted at “that lunchtime moment, or after-hours gathering”. They have different flavour profiles too, with Red described as having “rich herbal complexity, and bittersweet spiced berries” while Black has “intense spiced pepper warmth, earthy body and smoky bitter finish”.

Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson has gone against the grain by not launching a celebrity tequila brand, but rather a functional soft drink. Referencing her role in TV series Sex Education, her new G Spot range features various adaptogens and nootropics, and a healthy dose of innuendo too. The trio of drinks – or threesome, of course – includes ingredients such as bacopa for brain function, lion’s mane for immune, digestive and central nervous systems, and cordyceps for fans of The Last of Us.

If prebiotics are more your vibe, there’s Fibe, a recently-launched UK soda brand that provides fibre, calcium and vitamin C, all in on-trend brightly coloured cans, and low in sugar and calories. The three flavours in the range are Zesty Orange, Lush Limeonade and Fruit Punch.

Fermentation in no & low drinks

Offering their own potential functional benefits, not to mention complexity of flavour, fermented drinks continue to be big within the No and Low category. The latest from category pioneer Real Drinks Co is Peony Blush, a non-alcoholic sparkling rosé alternative made from White Peony tea. This naturally fermented tea, or kombucha, is said to have “notes of strawberry, yoghurt and luscious summer fruits”, and pairs well with food. It joins a selection of other premium fermented teas in the Real range, including Royal Flush, made with first flush Darjeeling. The range is packaged in champagne-style bottles, as well as in 250ml cans.

Beyond kombucha, water kefir offers interesting flavours and health benefits too. UK brand PiQi recently added larger-format 750ml sharing bottles to its range, making these more at home on a dinner table. PiQi’s sparkling kefirs, available in a range of flavours, are made using organic figs, and are raw and unpasteurised, resulting in, according to the brand, live cultures that are beneficial for gut health.

Flying the flag for fermentation in the non-alcoholic aperitif and digestif category in the UK is High Point. Claiming to produce the world’s first fermented non-alcoholic drinks, the team create a Ruby Aperitif and Amber Digestif in Cornwall. Local spring water and tea leaves are fermented to create the base of both drinks, which are then infused with various other ingredients.

In other UK non-alcoholic aperitif news – not something you’d hear very often a few years ago – small-batch botanical drink Botivo has updated its packaging. Originally launched in 2021, the brand has a base of apple cider vinegar, with all of the functional benefits that brings, combined with botanicals such as gentian and rosemary, as well as wildflower honey. 

Non-alcoholic spirits and RTDs

The category that arguably kicked off the No and Low trend a little while back, non-alc spirits, continues to see new launches from around the world. Among the latest in the UK comes from Oxfordshire distillery Sky Wave, producers of a variety of alcoholic gins, including a London Dry, Navy Strength, Old Tom and more. Earlier this year brought a booze-free addition, Sky Wave Zero, featuring three kinds of citrus and fresh ginger amongst its botanicals. Master distiller Andrew Parsons reportedly worked on the creation of this non-alc gin alternative for eighteen months.

Ready to drink is also booming within No and Low, much like its alcoholic counterparts at the moment. The category saw a new addition recently in the form of Zag Ice. Billed as “not a beer, nor a conventional sweet, soft drink”, the Zag Drinks range consists of a pair of low-cal, 0% ABV adult soft drinks with interesting ingredients. The original features kombucha, green tea and more, while the new Zag Ice is lime, mint and juniper flavoured.

Sustainability within the non-alcoholic category

A consideration for any brand nowadays, sustainability lies at the core of certain drinks brands. Within the non-alcoholic space, Everleaf is certainly among these, and unsurprisingly so, given founder Paul Mathew’s background as a conservation biologist. The brand was recently B-Corp certified, recognising its sustainable sourcing of ingredients, as well as its work with biodiversity conservation charities.

“The certification by B Lab UK is just part of the recognition of everything we’ve been doing, from completing our product and company carbon assessments, to gaining Fairtrade certification, improving our sourcing and supporting charities, none of which would have been possible without the success of Everleaf, particularly in the on-trade,” said Matthew.

Awards season

The World Alcohol-Free Awards, the only competition of its kind dedicated to drinks of 0.5% ABV and below, recently unveiled its 2023 results. The list of award winners in the competition’s first year demonstrates the variety in the category at the moment, not to mention the quality of products on the market. Everything from wine alternatives to alcohol free spirits, aperitifs and liqueurs were judged over two days in London earlier this year, alongside non-alcoholic beers, meads, RTDs and more.

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