Several mocktails were tested in this Lyre’s American Malt review, with mixed results. Lyre’s is based out of Australia and claims to offer “Impossibly Crafted Non-Alcoholic Spirits.” American Malt is their attempt at non-alcoholic bourbon.
Bottom line: Lyre’s American Malt does not taste like bourbon at all, but the smell is convincing enough to work in certain mocktails.
Non-alcoholic whiskey is tricky, but with a sommelier on their team, Lyre’s has achieved a convincing bourbon scent in American Malt. That essence of alcohol gets a little lost in tasting it, but the classic caramel characteristic found in bourbon kicks in.
There have been some hits and misses in mocktail tests, but American Malt has been the most promising product in the category of non-alcoholic whiskey thus far.
When evaluating non-alcoholic spirits, I believe it’s interesting to note how the brands are making their products. At the end of the day, if the product tastes like a non-alcoholic substitute, does it really matter how that is achieved?
Interestingly, Lyre’s American Malt is not produced like a whiskey at all. The spirit is not distilled, but made by blending natural essences and extracts, with a focus on mimicking flavor profiles of American malt whiskey.
Lyre’s bottles are a joy to explore. Each spirit’s label has its own mascot, great design, and clever quotes. They are a fun addition to any home bar shelf. American Malt has a fairly low sugar content for all the sweeteners used and especially compared to some of their other spirits.
Read more below for full tasting notes and details on all the recipes American Malt was tested and reviewed.
Best enjoyed in: Non Alcoholic Kentucky Mule
In order to thoughtfully review a product, it must be tested. Here’s the method taken for taste testing all non-alcoholic spirits and drinks:
What Does Lyre’s American Malt Taste Like…
- On ice
- On ice with tonic or appropriate single mixer
- Brand recommended mocktails
- Get creative
It has a caramel color, and surprisingly smells like alcohol, even reminiscent of bourbon. Sipped neat, it has that malt flavor, some caramel, but loses the essence of alcohol. You really have to get a good swig to get any bite at all. This is probably not something you want to be sipping on neat, as there is a bit of that artificial flavor of caramel coloring present.
#2 On Ice:
On ice, American Malt is not much different than neat, only colder. The aroma seems to be a little stronger with the spirit on ice. It smells a lot like bourbon.
#3 On Ice with Tonic:
With Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water, there is a strong flavor of artificial caramel color. The bitterness of the quinine just does not seem to complement this non-alcoholic spirit.
#4 Brand Recommended Mocktails featuring Lyre’s American Malt:
Here are a few mocktails Lyre’s features on their website, and what they actually taste like:
Lyre’s Old Fashioned
- 60ml Lyre’s American Malt
- 5ml white sugar syrup
- 2 dashes aromatic bitters
Stir briefly over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel.
Verdict: Because this is almost the same as having it neat, Lyre’s non-alcoholic bourbon substitute still smells like alcohol, which goes a long way. It surprisingly tastes enough like an Old Fashioned, so I would approve it as a substitute, if you must have a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned.
Two other brand recommended mocktails have already been tested and reviewed, and here’s a summary of those results:
- Lyre’s Non Alcoholic Boulevardier: this beverage is a good try, but without actual alcohol, you really don’t get that warm sensation you want in a Boulevardier; if you hadn’t had alcohol in a while, Lyre’s Boulevardier smells and tastes like a memory of a boulevardier, not like an exact substitute.
- Lyre’s Non Alcoholic Manhattan – This had me looking for something to wash my mouth out. Lyre’s non-alcoholic version of a Manhattan is not an approved substitute. It’s too sweet and tastes of faux caramel flavoring.
#5 Get Creative
After having mixed results with brand recommended drinks, I started testing out American Malt in some popular whiskey cocktails. Here are the recipes and results:
Non Alcoholic Whiskey Sour
- 2oz Lyre’s American Malt
- .75oz Lemon juice
- .5oz Simple syrup
- ½ Egg white
- Angostura bitters
Directions: Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dash of angostura bitters.
Verdict: This seems to be a theme, but I’m picking up that faux caramel taste. The flavors just don’t blend well in this whiskey sour mocktail. It doesn’t taste like a bourbon drink, and it’s really missing the warmth that bourbon brings.
Brown Derby Mocktail
- 2oz Lyre’s American Malt
- 1oz Grapefruit juice
- .75oz Honey syrup
Directions: Shake and strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Verdict: Another mocktail that just doesn’t work. American Malt is clearly not blending well with citrus. I tried a couple different ratios for this, and it still didn’t taste very good.
After a couple failed attempts, I was still determined to make something tasty with American Malt, so I tried another creative mocktail: the bourbon version of a Moscow mule. It was tasty, and had a faint bourbon essence to it. Substitute success:
Non Alcoholic Kentucky Mule
- 2oz Lyre’s American Malt
- .5oz Lime juice
- Ginger beer
- Rosemary sprig
Layer non-alcoholic whiskey with lime juice over ice in a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer, and stir lightly. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ON NON ALCOHOLIC WHISKEY
Overall, I have not been as impressed with non-alcoholic whiskeys as compared to other non-alcoholic spirits, because they don’t seem to provide that “hot” sensation you want out of a whiskey cocktail, and they aren’t as consistent in their success rate in mocktails.
However, when used selectively, they have proven to make some decent mocktails. For guidance on this, I would refer to the mocktail recipes. Each of those recipes have been tried and approved as either non-alcoholic cocktail substitutes or tasty alternative beverages.
Click here for the best available price for Lyre’s American Malt on Amazon and get started experimenting with non-alcoholic whiskey cocktails.
Water, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Caramel Sugar Syrup, Natural Flavoring, Acid: Citric Acid, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Stabiliser: Cellulose Gum (E466).
VEGAN, DAIRY FREE, NUT FREE, EGG FREE, GLUTEN FREE
Nutrition: Sugar Contents: .8g/30ml and 2g/100ml. Carbohydrate Contents 1.1g/30ml and 3.7g/100ml
Storage: Refrigeration recommended, but not necessary. Consume within 12 weeks from opening.