How NINE ELMS No.18 took over the non-alcoholic wine space
NINE ELMS No.18 is a little bit different to other non-alcoholic drinks you might find on the market. We caught up with Simon Rucker, Joint CEO and co-founder of NINE ELMS Drinks to find out some more about the genesis of NINE ELMS No.18. Simon talked about why it plays a unique role in the no & low drinks space and the different ways NINE ELMS No.18 can be enjoyed.
“When we set out to create NINE ELMS No.18, it was based on the observation that there were no non-alcoholic drinks in the market specially designed to complement good food – so if you were eating out, but not drinking you tended to get a bit of a raw deal.” Rucker told us.
“But I don’t think we realised, at the time, just what a difficult technical challenge we’d set ourselves. In fact, it took more than two years of development, of trialling different ingredients, blends and techniques, until we arrived at our final recipe for NINE ELMS No.18: an intricate marriage between the botanical infusions of 20 different flowers, herbs and spices, and the juice of 4 types of dark berry.”
Moving beyond wine
Although wine is the reference point when trying to create a drink that pairs well with food, Rucker says NINE ELMS No. 18 was never meant to emulate wine exactly.
“We saw more value in creating a completely new type of non-alcoholic drink, from the ground up. Nevertheless, NINE ELMS No.I8 does share some of wine’s characteristics, including soft mouth-watering tannins, gentle acidity and progressively unfolding complexity, which are particularly enjoyable when accompanied by something delicious to eat. And this is why we always try and encourage consumers to try No.18 with food to fully appreciate its virtues!”
Becoming an award-winner
NINE ELMS No.18 has been well received across the industry. The drink won both the Best No & Low Wine or Wine Alternative and the Best No & Low Food Match at the 2020 Imbibe No & Low Taste Awards.
“We were especially proud of beating a line-up that included the best non-alcoholic wines in a blind taste test,” said Rucker.
“These awards were the perfect endorsement of NINE ELMS No.18’s unique position in the market. They echoed earlier responses we had had from commentators like Douglas Blyde (Evening Standard magazine’s food and drinks writer) who said that NINE ELMS No. 18 could stand up to any non-alcoholic wine on the market, even though it was not technically a wine.”
So if NINE ELMS No. 18 isn’t a non-alcoholic wine, what is it?
“Technically, NINE ELMS No.18 is a Velven,” explains Rucker.
“Velvens are a modern non-alcoholic evolution of the botanical concoctions first created by Benedictine Monks in the 13th century. These were designed to stimulate the appetite and bring good cheer. They contained a diverse range of fruits and herbs gathered from the monastery gardens and made to closely guarded recipes.”
“Strictly speaking, NINE ELMS No.18 is a Ruby Velven, in that it resembles a red wine and is designed to complement rich, savoury dishes. But whether Ruby, Rose or Blonde, a Velven should always be an inclusive drink – and by that I mean it should have the sort of sophisticated, grown-up taste that means it can be enjoyed by any adult sitting down to enjoy something delicious to eat, whether they’re drinking or not!”
The font of innovation
However, NINE ELMS No.18 does not just have to be drunk as a straight pour.
“The concept of using NINE ELMS No.18 as a key ingredient in a range of innovative no & low drinks was first mooted, then developed by our Head of Business Development James Morgan last year.”
“We’ve been particularly delighted with the response from consumers, the media and the hospitality trade with the idea.”
“Personally, I love No.18 mixed with a splash of good quality soda or tonic and topped off with a slice of orange – it makes an excellent aperitif.”
“We’ve also created a range of signature no & low NINE ELMS No.18 cocktails, some specifically for our restaurant partners like Maremma or Decimo at the Standard Hotel, but all of them way ahead of the usual tired ‘mocktails’.”
So how should we be drinking NINE ELMS No.18 this January?
“For January, we recommend our moreish OLSON spritz,” says Rucker. “It has a refreshing bitterness and a gentle caffeine kick – perfect for post-Christmas / Dry January!”
- 75ml NINE ELMS No.18
- 10ml cold brewed coffee
- 75ml Fevertree Light Tonic
- Fresh sprig of rosemary
- Juicy twist of pink grapefruit
Measure the NINE ELMS No.18 and cold brewed coffee into an ice filled highball or rocks glass. Give it a gentle stir then add the rosemary sprig and grapefruit twist. Top with the tonic.
Happy Dry January!
Enjoy 10% off a bottle of NINE ELMS No.18 when buying through The Alcohol Free Co with code nineelms10
Last year we also shared a mulled wine recipe with Nine Elms.