If you can get past the whole “not feeling altered” thing, sobriety is actually a one-way ticket to being smug in social situations. Take pride in your un-slurred speech, delivered at a comfortable volume. Keep the lid on your real personality. Go directly home without buying a kebab. Enjoy a restful sleep and wake up early for some kind of hike.
But smugness isn’t really what ALTD Spirits, Sydney’s first alcohol-free spirits distillery, is about. The sibling-helmed company produces a “range of sophisticated alcohol alternatives with flavours inspired by the tastes and sounds of the Aussie bush.” And rather than converting people into alcohol avoiders, they’re interested in giving people choice, without compromising on flavour.
Do we care? What do they taste like? Are spirits truly spirits without alcohol? Together, we can turn confusion into clarity. Let’s begin!
Everything we know about ALTD Spirits
Fans of legends like John Farnham and unlikely national icons (?) like Corey Worthington may be pleased to learn that ALTD Spirits is a distillery that’s “uniquely Australian”. Side note: 2008 Corey is famous for partying, but 2018 Corey and his muscle-making pursuits might just love ALTD?!
The company specialises in micro-batches of alcohol-free beverages that are heavy on botanicals like native thyme, strawberry gum, pepper berry, and myrtle leaves of lemon, cinnamon and honey. Each signature blend relies on local ingredients, and no imported berries or spices are used. They are also free of things that modern people don’t like ingesting, like gluten, sugar and animal products.
Okay, but what do they taste like?
I have tried two flavours in the ALTD range: Green Grocer and Silver Princess. Democracy prevails with a handful of serving suggestions: ‘straight-up’ Martini style, on the rocks with a twist of lime or mixed with tonic water. I did the latter, because it was hot and I was bothered.
Green Grocer has a flavour profile of lemon myrtle, rosemary and pine-citrus, with undertones of Tasmanian pepper berry. More savoury than sweet, it’s herbal tasting—but not reminiscent of tea. It’s got too much pep for that, being a little effervescent and a lot refreshing. The pepper berry even lingered a little, which was nice, if even a little needy.
On first sip, I thought: this is like a rosewater face mist, but for my mouth.
The aftertaste: was mild and slightly bitter.
You’ll like it if: you’re a gin martini kind of person.
I found Silver Princess simpler, and also sweeter. Truth be told, it doesn’t compare to say, a standard margarita laced with its several teaspoons of actual sugar, and is sweetened with stevia, actually. Quelle surprise: I am loyal to bitter, refreshing drinks, and so my barometer for sweet is likely overcooked. I can say the strawberry gum was a nice, perky flavour, though, layered with a little cinnamon and balanced by barks.
On first sip, I thought: pleasant, smooth, sweet… but a little sticky for me.
The aftertaste: was subtly fruity and quickly dissipated.
You’ll like it if: you like an Aperol Spritz.
What else do we know about ALTD Spirits?
Decidedly millennial from the outset, domestic aesthetes will enjoy placing these bottles at magnetic, eye-level locales around the home—perhaps alongside Aesop pump bottles or Diptyque candles—even using them as vases when contents have been gulped.
Let’s have a concluding statement.
If you’re looking for a tipple that mimics the taste of alcohol, ALTD isn’t necessarily that. It’s kind of better than that though—undercurrents of ethanol should really be reserved for when a person is looking to feel altered, I believe. Instead, cycle through ALTD’s complex flavours like a xylophone.
ALTD is more exciting than a Diet Coke (it’s not 1994) or soda water (yawn), and won’t arouse the demonic burping caused by aggressive carbonation. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I love hangovers,” ALTD may not be for you. Everyone else: you’re a candidate.
Seeing as you've skipped a hangover, why not get around the best hikes in and around Sydney.
Image credit: Raw Pixel.