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In a world of people who are sober curious or just plain sober, the non-alcoholic options are becoming more plentiful. I love this movement, supporting sobriety is an amazing turn for the American public as we become more aware of addiction and the overall health benefits of cutting out or cutting back on alcohol.
As a former bartender, I saw mocktails grow in popularity for years. Once an order reserved for children, pregnant people, or addicts, began to expand over the years. Because the fact is that people who choose to be sober range from those who are the designated driver, pregnant, sober, or just not in the mood to drink.
And for some of us, this is the first time that we’re seeing a lack of judgment placed upon those people, and this decision rather being extremely well-supported.
From a seller’s perspective, this is a huge group of people, and they often want creative concoctions while they enjoy the bar life because the bar life is more than drinking, it’s about socializing, music, dancing, and just plain being with other people.
But the concept of non-alcoholic spirits is, strangely enough, a newer movement, and with the sober customer base being such a huge market with a lot of growth and earning potential, I don’t see why it took distillers this long. In fact, the market has grown a whopping 506% between the years 2015 and 2021. My question is, what took you so long?
That being said, let’s discuss one of the distilleries responsible for putting non-alcoholic spirits on the market: Drink Monday.
Bottom Line Up Front
While I love the concept of non-alcoholic spirits, I do not believe that Drink Monday Whiskey should be categorized as a whiskey substitute. It tastes almost nothing at all like a whiskey, and will not scratch that ‘whiskey itch’. I do believe that it is a good product that is worth mixing with, I just wish it wasn’t labeled as a non-alcoholic whiskey.
Monday is a distillery in California that makes non-alcoholic spirits from natural ingredients. The distillery was launched in 2019 and at this time they only have two ‘spirits’, a whiskey and a gin, though I’d anticipate more from them down the line.
As I said before, this is a very lucrative market, and Drink Monday is already creating a lot of buzz, boasting that it sold $1.3 million worth of their non-alcoholic gin in their first nine months of being open.
The name alone is fantastic, clever, and memorable. You can drink this on Monday, you can drink it on Sunday. You can drink it on a picnic and get behind the wheel and drive home! It’s all okay because it’s all alcohol-free.
Something unique, especially from alcoholic beverages, is that Monday’s products are all zero sugar and zero calories. While most spirits are vegan, and while all liquor is gluten-free, so is this non-alcoholic spirit. Fun fact: Campari was originally made with beetles, their shells were responsible for the amaro being red! Today, Campari has made a vegan switch, but other red amari like Saint George’s Bruto Americano, have not!
So with all this in mind, you know I had to get myself a bottle of the Drink Monday Whiskey. I’m a big whiskey drinker and the idea of having an alcohol-free version of it is all too tempting for me as I grow older, wiser, and dare I say, more responsible.
I ordered myself a bottle of Monday’s whiskey online, which cost me $45 with no shipping cost (not too shabby!) and arrived promptly. One thing I immediately loved about this shipment was not having to be home to show UPS my ID!
Okay so now we know where this non-alcoholic ‘whiskey’ comes from and why it exists, let’s get to the fun part: tasting!
So I opened my bottle and poured my Drink Monday Whiskey, neat, just the way I like my regular whiskey. Taking in the nose, which is potent enough to be smelled before I even bring the glass close to my face, I am hit with the bitter notes of dark chocolate.
That is followed by burnt orange skin. Not unpleasant, but far more potent than any other flavor notes from a regular whiskey. Okay, it’s going to be different, I’m not turned off and in fact, I’m really intrigued by these intense smells.
The first sip is bright lemon juice – not lemonade with any sweetness but only lemon juice – and lemon zest, which is really unlike any whiskey I’ve personally ever had. Having that bright, aggressive, lemon burst is frightfully non-whiskey at all and I’m immediately removed from the illusion of drinking a whiskey substitute. It is followed by more dark chocolate and mellower milk chocolate hints which are nice, but then my throat is attacked by a burning and almost numbing sensation. The spices are like cayenne and my Szechuan, two flavors that I enjoy but that are so overwhelmingly present in this spirit that I nearly cough. The finish is thin, lacking in flavors save for yet even more lemon juice, and then finally, I’m left with a watery texture with no body at all.
If you can’t tell by my description, this does not taste like whiskey. While I understand that a lot of these adjectives are often used to describe a variety of whiskies, the texture of this non-alcoholic spirit is nothing like a whiskey, and the flavors I describe are all so potent, it feels more like flavors, battling it out and exploding on my palate than any whiskey.
I’d imagine that the cayenne or cayenne-like spices were added to replace the spiciness of rye in a rye whiskey or high-rye content bourbon.
However, this is just too much and it hits in the back of the throat, making it more of a coughing hazard than a yummy flavor. And while I enjoy the chocolatey notes and love those same chocolatey notes in any whiskey, that seems to be the carrying factor of this non-alcoholic ‘whiskey’.
I want to be clear that this isn’t a bad product, this just isn’t a whiskey substitute. If you are sober and a former whiskey drinker, you will not be satisfied with this non-alcoholic whiskey. That being said, I think this is a very interesting non-alcoholic spirit that has a lot of merit in mixing mocktails, it just simply doesn’t scratch the whiskey itch.
Pros and Cons of Drink Monday Whiskey
- This is an inexpensive product, especially compared to many regular whiskies. (It was just $45 for a 750-milliliter bottle.)
- This isn’t a bad-tasting product, it just doesn’t taste like whiskey.
- I believe this has a lot of potential to mix delicious mocktails.
- Easy to order online from the Drink Monday website but also websites like Amazon.
- This does not taste like whiskey.
- The body does not at all feel like a whiskey.
- I feel like the marketing is misleading on this product, and it makes me distrustful of the company.
- No hints of woodiness or oak, two huge flavors in aged whiskey.
Drink Monday Whiskey Appearance
Visually, the Drink Monday Whiskey has a nice brown tint. It definitely looks much thinner than any whiskey, which carries through in the mouthfeel as well. Because there’s no alcohol in it, it also has no legs.
That means when you swirl it around the glass, it doesn’t slowly drip down the sides, showing its ‘legs’. Legs tell a lot about the whiskey that you’re drinking as they have their own color and distinctions. Legs are also telling in other alcohols like wine.
You can see in the picture below as well how there are small bubbles on the top of the Drink Monday Whiskey as it aerates as you pour.
With actual whiskey, you can create bubbles, but they quickly disappear due to the alcohol content. This isn’t a negative on Drink Monday’s part, I’m just pointing out how visually you can tell the difference between this and a regular whiskey.
Overall, it doesn’t look dense enough to be a bourbon and may pass as a Tennessee Whiskey or something lighter like that but a seasoned whiskey drinker wouldn’t be fooled by Drink Monday Whiskey in a glass. Not only from the look but that potent smell that wafts off of it immediately, and the fact that it has no legs and has bubbles lingering on the top.
Bottle Design and Aesthetic
I’m in love with the bottle design. This screams Art Deco, one of my favorite aesthetics. The word “Monday” is broken up, two letters at a time, on top of each other. They have shapes inside them that are shiny gold, matte white, and matte burgundy.
The cork is a light color with a nice white sticker across the top, with more gold detailing on it. The branding for this company is really on point.
Under the eye-catching title are the words “Zero Alcohol Whiskey” with the size of the bottle (a standard 750 ml) all in gold, Art Deco font.
The label is a dark blue with more shiny gold shapes around the words on either side. On the back is the rarely found ‘nutrition facts’ on a bottle of whiskey. Of course, this isn’t whiskey.
As advertised it is zero calories and zero sugar. There is also zero fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, and protein. This is all-natural, full of flavors, and yet no nutrients or calories. Is this company magic?
Alternative Non-Alcoholic Whiskey Options
This market is expanding, but right now there isn’t a huge amount of whiskey-specific non-alcoholic spirits.
Free Spirits makes The Spirit of Bourbon, a non-alcoholic bourbon option. Ringing in at $37 for a 750-milliliter bottle, you can have this at your doorstep for just shy of $50 unless you choose to subscribe and save, saving 10%.
So this non-alcoholic bourbon is a little more expensive than Drink Monday and tasting-wise, this has a lot of lighter chocolatey notes compared to the Drink Monday Whiskey.
Its flavors overall are more subtle with the familiar hints of spice at the end, similar to the Drink Monday. If you like the Drink Monday Zero Alcohol Whiskey, you would probably also enjoy this.
Ritual Zero Proof has a Whiskey Alternative but they also make a tequila, gin, and rum alternative! Their whiskey is only $29.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle, so significantly less than both the Drink Monday and Free Spirits, and when you place your first order, you can sign up for email alerts and get a 10% off coupon.
Tasting-wise, this is nothing like the Drink Monday Whiskey. The nose is charred vanilla and the palate is smokey, most similar probably to a Scotch.
FAQs about Drink Monday Whiskey
Answer: Yes. I love trying new things and Drink Monday is a young company that still has time to grow and improve. I’d love to taste their non-alcoholic gin in the meantime!
Answer: I’m not a doctor, but this product isn’t bad for you. This is no sugar, no calories, and no alcohol. It’s easier for your body to process than booze and won’t give you a hangover, especially because there isn’t sugar! (So many cheap alcohols and many cocktails are loaded with sugar, which contributes to bad hangovers.)
Drink Monday Whiskey is also made with natural ingredients, which is amazing and unique in this world.
Answer: A non-alcoholic spirit is a distilled product with no alcohol. There are a lot of really cool options out there, and I highly recommend exploring this marketplace!
Answer: The magic word is in the question. “Marketing”. That’s it. Naming something ‘non-alcoholic whiskey’ not only intrigues people who stopped drinking, but it also intrigues current drinkers. The name sells the bottles, unfortunately, the flavor doesn’t back the name.
For that reason, I believe that if they changed the name, they’d sell more bottles long-term because people would come back for the product. I wouldn’t buy this product again as a whiskey substitute but if I can make a nice cocktail or mocktail with it, I certainly would.
Final Thoughts on Drink Monday Whiskey
I can’t be clear enough that while I don’t agree that this non-alcoholic product should be labeled or marketed as a whiskey, I do not consider it a bad product.
I love that this is a distilled non-alcoholic spirit made with natural ingredients with zero calories. I think that made into a highball, it would be tasty as a non-alcoholic whiskey and soda or Coke. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to trying to mix this into a mocktail or even add it to a cocktail recipe for some fun new flavors.
The world of non-alcoholic spirits is still very new, and Drink Monday is only three years old as a company and distillery. If they rework their recipe, I’d try a new bottle. This is all just a work in progress, and it’s really cool to see companies that are aiming to support sobriety and mindfulness as to what we put in our bodies.