The Ultimate Scottish Alcohol-Free Drinks Review
Our Glasgow festival is fast approaching and we can’t wait to share some amazing drinks with you. We thought we’d put together a little review highlighting some of the wonderful Scottish products that will be available on the day.
Unfortunately, Chastity is so new that we didn’t get a chance to taste it before the festival, but we are very excited to try it! It will be launching at our Glasgow festival. There are two varieties, Seduction and Temptation, very saucy! Seduction promises to be comparable to classic London Dry gins, with juniper, coriander and liquorice notes. Temptation has a similar base but uses kaffir lime to add citrus notes, as well as hints of fragrant cardamom. I can’t wait to get my hands on this and start mixing with some of my favourite tonics!
Unlike other kombucha brands who also use fruit flavours, Left Field let the tea do the show-stopping. This fermented tea drink is perfect for lovers of a good cold brew tea and is full of probiotic goodness to promote a balanced and healthy gut. So not only is it delicious, it’s also considered to be very good for you. Bonus!
No 1. Yunnan Black
Hints of honey and rich malt with a sweetness that balances the tannic quality of the tea. A little earth and smoke also for a deep and complex drink.
No 2. Sencha Green Tea
This green tea is a little buttery which nices balances some floral and grassy characters. There’s a hint of soft peach and a little tropical fruit too.
No 3. Oolong
This is light, grassy and floral with a touch of sweetness. Very fine carbonation which particularly suits this delicate brew.
No 4. Darjeeling
A robust drink with a hint of sweet dark dried fruit. A little more tannic and earthy, definitely one for the tea purist who lose a black loose leaf brew.
The story goes that Big Willie was a sailor who adventured to unknown shores in search of exotic flavours for his ginger beer. The recipe here is inspired by this tale, and the drink is natural, softly carbonated and warming. It uses fiery Nigerian ginger root to give that warming kick and Tahitian vanilla for a little sweetness. It’s not as aggressive as some ginger beers, the vanilla brings a softness. This is similar in flavour to a nice ginger loaf cake. It is a little naughty at 145.2kcal per can and contains 11g of sugar. This works perfectly well on its own served over ice, or you could get creative with mixing and garnishing. I like mine with a bit of fresh mint.
Slange Var is a versatile low-sugar drink for the mature palate and makes a nice change from all those sugary soft drinks that are so readily available. They also have a focus on looking after the local bee population. Their honey is sourced from award-winning local beekeepers at Plan Bee Ltd. So Slange Var is even doing its bit to give back to mother nature. What more could we ask for?
This is made using lime juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, and honey. It has a bright acidity, making it perfect for sipping. The ginger brings a slow and lasting warmth on the back of the throat. This is the perfect tonic when you’re low in energy and need a clean pick-me-up. You can drink it in a variety of ways, start by trying it neat if you want something to sip over time, the acidity makes this good for slow drinking. I also tried it with hot water, and as I’ve been a little under the weather this felt a comforting medicinal way to enjoy. My favourite way to drink Slange Var is over ice with some sparkling water and fresh mint. You could also use it to mix with spirits if you’re moderating, it’s a great addition to a hot toddy with some cloves and fresh ginger thrown in, and it’s limey quality make it the perfect accompaniment for rum-based drinks. This is just 10 kcal per 100ml with just 2.2g of sugar, and you can order it directly from their website.
Summerhouse create deliciously refreshing sodas using natural fruits, herbs and spices. These are made with lightly carbonated Scottish water and are produced by Claire at her farm in Fraserburgh. They are great as standalone products, but would also mix well with alcohol-free spirits.
This cloudy lemonade is full of nostalgia and takes me back to drinking homemade lemonade in my nan’s garden while searching for tadpoles! This is refreshing and pleasantly acidic, there’s a little sweet hint too.
This is bright and fruity with a little sweetness. At the end, you get that lovely raspberry seed flavour – a little jammy. There is still a touch of acidity, but less noticeable in this flavour. If you want to zhuzh it up a bit try adding some fresh raspberries and a sprig of rosemary.
A little soapy on the aroma with lots of zesty lemon. This is floral, think parma violets but very subtle. For a special occasion this would be a great alcohol-free option garnished with rosemary, lavender or edible flowers.
Hint o’ Mint Lemonade
This is a firm favourite and has heaps of fresh mint aroma. The taste is traditional homemade lemonade with a bouquet of fresh garden mint. Go for the obvious if you’re garnishing this, fresh mint and a thin slice of lemon. And it’s only 23 kcal per 100ml.
St Clement’s Orange and Lemon
There’s a little orange sediment in here, so gently disturb this before pouring. This is similar to the lemonade, but with a hearty dose of orange thrown in. A great alternative if your tipple at the pub is fresh orange and lemonade. The flavour is much more authentic and the sugar content far lower.
Mechanical Engineer Gavin and his Food Scientist wife Catriona decided to create a unique and health conscious product. They realised that the soft drink market was growing, and created a range of products to meet the demand for refreshing and flavourful health-conscious drinks. Thus, Middle Way Drinks was born.
Water kefir uses water kefir grains to culture sugar water, juice, or coconut water. In this case, the creators use natural fruit juice. And much like kombucha is considered to be good for your gut. All three of their drinks are vegan and free from all common allergens. These can be enjoyed alone or used as mixers.
This is still and refreshingly acetic. The lemon flavour is soft, almost a little like lemon curd or barley water. This weighs in at just 58 kcal per bottle, and the only sugar present is natural.
Apple & Ginger
The apple here is crisp and bright, and the ginger brings a subtle warmth, like soft gingerbread. There is a little acidity here from some Sicilian lemon, this is a perfect post-lunch drink to keep you alert into the afternoon and contains 70 kcal per bottle.
This is reminiscent of hard-boiled candy and cherryade. I love the nostalgia this flavour brings, the lightness of the kefir water just balances the sour cherry juice. With 67 kcal per bottle.
Clever Kombucha use simple packaging, not dissimilar to high-end cosmetic brands. This definitely adds to a feeling of treating yourself when you crack one open. This is brewed right here in Glasgow and is full of probiotic goodness.
Aged in oak barrels, this is brewed using Assam tea. Oak barrels give a little woody character and allow a touch of oxygen to further develop and soften flavours. If I had to guess I’d say we are going with the latter of the two with this kombucha. The Original Oak from Clever Kombucha carries those buttery, creamy attributes associated with Assam tea really well, this is very smooth and mellow.
Ginger & Pear
A bright rusty orange pour made from their original oak and cold pressed pear and ginger. The ginger is warming and there is a real spicy kick too to. There is also quite a pithy citrus quality, almost like orange peel.
Watermelon & Mint
The mint really comes through here and is pleasantly clean. The watermelon is quite a natural flavour, though it’s not as light and refreshing as I expected. Both flavours have been added as cold-pressed juice, and make for a refreshing brew.