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The taste of fine spirits – without the alcohol

Global flavour powerhouse, Symrise, has applied its expertise to new solutions for the no-low trend – this time for ever-popular brown spirits.

Dubbed Spirit Signatures, it has “discovered the taste mystery” behind brown spirits like scotch, bourbon, whiskey, brandy, and dark rum.

“While it’s true that the brown spirits category continues to grow, it’s also true that millennial and Gen Z consumers are increasingly seeking reduced alcohol or even alcohol-free alternatives,” comments Ahmed Nour, Category Director Beverages, Symrise Flavor Division North America.

“Our new Spirit Signatures portfolio represent Symrise’s flavour, applications and technology expertise put to life to design, decode, and deliver the essence of premium spirit brands without the alcohol.”

In order to create these exceptional flavours, the Symrise Beverage team took a deep dive into deciphering each step in spirits production. They then decoded these steps to understand more about the molecular levels and chemical compositions that result from each process.

Using Scotch whisky distillation as an example, there are a total of ten individual processes involved in production: malting, kilting, peating, mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation, filtration, blending, and bottling. Every one of these ten steps have an effect on flavour formation.

The Symrise team – including flavourists and certified Master Distillers – applied their expertise to the analysis of the flavour characteristics that each step imparted to the whisky.

This knowledge, coupled with Symrise’s proprietary technologies including SymOak advanced maturation and SymBouquet spirits taste modulation, led to the creation of a Symrise flavour top note plus botanical extract that can, for instance, now mimic premium Scotch whisky in an alcohol-free form.

Adding the oak

Many factors come into play in formulation of whisky, brandy, and rum. Since they are typically aged in oak barrels, maturation in these wood barrels forms the distinct taste sensations of spirits.

The composition of oak is quite complex and imparts different taste characteristics depending on the type of oak used in the aging process.

“The Spirit Signatures toolbox was created using various Symrise taste solutions, including our Code of Nature Botanical Essentials,” adds Nour.

“By using this specialised extraction capability, we can create botanical extracts that are unique compared to other extracts currently available in the market.

“Through our patented gentle processing technique, we capture many of the volatiles and complex notes from the botanical and add them to the finished beverage to deliver proper mouthfeel, along with a unique taste experience.

“The Symrise team created different oak extracts that will help to complete and distinguish the taste profiles of classic brown spirits, premium whiskey, brandy, and rum.”

Also a fit for CBD/THC drinks

The Spirit Signature portfolio of flavours are best applied to low alcohol/no alcohol products. They are also an ideal fit for CBD/THC drinks that can offer consumers the experience of a cocktail, but which legally cannot contain any alcohol.

CBD and THC infused beverages represent huge potential; a recent report from Grand View Research indicated that the global cannabis beverages market size is expected to reach $2,8-billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 17.8%.

The report looked at alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages using either TCH or CBD: “The demand of THC infused cannabis beverages is majorly driven by rising product demand from adult consumers for recreational purposes.

“Rising demand for the therapeutic effects of the component along with the euphoria it provides is expected to bode well for the growth of the segment in the forthcoming years.

“Lack of psychoactive effect in the CBD drinks is widening its scope…many consumers are considering CBD drinks as wellness and anti-inflammatory products.”

The Symrise Spirit Signatures toolbox currently includes Kentucky Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, Brandy and Rum flavours.

These recreate top notes that mimic all the spirit processing steps involved in the formation of a premium alcoholic product, including the barrel-aging component.

Source: Symrise