This is a review of Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative, including brand recipes taste tested. After having reviewed Ritual’s first two products, I was eager to try their take on non alcoholic whiskey.
Whiskey Alternative smells smoky and tastes sweet like caramel with a hint of spice. There’s also a peppery flavor that lingers in your mouth for a bit after drinking it.
It doesn’t really taste like whiskey and after tastings and mocktail tests, unfortunately, Whiskey Alternative has not impressed.
It’s decent in a non alcoholic whiskey tonic, which brings out the aromatic spices in it, making a sort of “spice tonic” beverage. However, given its lack of success in more mocktails, I would not recommend it, either as a non-alcoholic whiskey substitute or an alternative beverage.
I can recommend the other two Ritual products previously tested: Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative and Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative. For more information and photos for how Ritual Whiskey Alternative was evaluated, keep reading below.
How it’s made: Ritual Zero Proof individually distills each botanical then blends them. The final blend is microfiltered in batches before bottling.
Best enjoyed in: Non Alcoholic Whiskey Tonic
In order to thoughtfully review a product, it must be tested. Here’s the method taken for taste testing:
What does Ritual Whiskey Alternative taste like…
- On ice
- On ice with tonic or appropriate single mixer
- Brand recommended mocktails
- Get creative
The beverage has a deep amber color, and it smells quite smoky, but not much like it’s alcoholic counterpart. At first sip, you will taste caramel. It’s sweet and syrupy up front, with a hint of spice in the back.
As for bite? It’s got that too – probably from the peppercorn listed on the label. The pepper really lingers in your mouth, but it’s quite smoky, and doesn’t really taste like whiskey neat. It doesn’t have the mouthfeel or “hot sensation” you get from drinking alcohol.
#2 On Ice:
On ice, Whiskey Alternative is a little brighter in flavor, and a bit more aromatic.
#3 On Ice with Tonic
Whiskey Tonic: 2oz Ritual Whiskey Alternative + 5oz Fever Tree Refreshingly Light Tonic – it’s ok, kinda like a spiced tonic. Throw a lemon wheel in it, and it’s alright. Tastes a little like someone dashed a bunch of aromatic bitters in some tonic, but it’s not bad.
#4 Brand Recommended Mocktails with Ritual Whiskey Alternative
Here are a few brand recommended mocktails featuring Ritual Whiskey Alternative and what they actually taste like:
Ritual New Fashioned
- 2 oz. Ritual Whiskey Alternative
- 1 dash plain water
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1 sugar cube or 1 oz simple syrup
- Orange slice and cherry
Saturate sugar cube with bitters or add to simple syrup. Add a dash of plain water. Muddle and mix. Add ice and Ritual whiskey alternative. Stir. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry. Serve in an old fashioned glass.
Verdict: This turned out super sweet, not at all reminiscent of an Old Fashioned. Since the spirit is so sweet to begin with, I tried a few versions to mitigate this, one with more bitters, one with no sugar added, but still no luck. It just seemed to be missing something. The pepper still lingers in your mouth, but the flavors don’t seem to blend enough.
The spirit is really supposed to shine in this drink, and unfortunately, that is not the case with this spirit. Maybe it would excel in another mocktail, where the spirit is blended more with other ingredients…
Ritual Manhattan (low ABV)
- 2oz. Ritual Whiskey Alternative
- 1oz. Sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes bitters
- Orange and cherry
Fill a shaker with ice, Ritual, vermouth and bitters. Stir gently. Place a cherry in the bottom of a chilled glass and strain the mixture over it. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Verdict: I can’t get behind this. I love Manhattan cocktails and this is just not a Manhattan. I thought adding a quality vermouth would help it, but it’s just not right. Too sweet, pretty spicy. It’s almost like a holiday beverage, but something’s off.
Ritual Zero Proof was previously tested in another brand recommended mocktail, Ritual Sweet & Sour in this comparison test with other non-alcoholic whiskeys, but unfortunately it was not that impressive either.
- 2 oz. Ritual Whiskey Alternative
- 2 oz. apple cider or juice
- 2 dashes bitters
- Cinnamon stick
- Apple slice
Combine the first three ingredients in a tall glass with ice. Stir until cold. Pour over fresh ice, garnish with cinnamon stick and apple slice, and serve.
Verdict: Just ok. Blend of flavor is better than the Manhattan, but still not a great drink. The cinnamon and apple help. Though it called for one, this recipe did not fill a tall glass for me.
#5 Get Creative:
So far, I haven’t had overwhelming success with Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative in mocktails. At this point, I would probably recommend Whiskey Alternative + tonic as the best way to consume Ritual Whiskey Alternative. But let’s try it in another classic alcohol free whiskey cocktail and see how it goes: The Mint Julep.
Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep
- 2.5oz Ritual Whiskey Alternative
- .5 Simple syrup
- 8 + Mint sprig for garnish
Lightly muddle 8 Mint leaves with simple syrup in a julep cup. Add Whiskey Alternative and fill with crushed ice. Stir until the cup becomes frosty. Top up with ice and garnish with a mint sprig.
Verdict: Nope. Still tastes syrupy and sweet, with the spice on the end. It’s just not like a mint julep at all. And it’s not very good as a beverage either.
Ritual Whiskey Alternative vs Whiskey: How They are Made
Ritual Zero Proof individually distills each botanical then blends them. The final blend is microfiltered in batches before bottling. Distillation is, according to Wikipedia, “the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation.”
While alcoholic whiskey does go through distillation, it is made quite differently. First, a grain is malted, then mashed, then fermented. After fermentation, it’s distilled, then aged. This is a basic summary, and there are many variables that can be applied in each step.
Non-alcoholic whiskey doesn’t really have to go through all this, because it doesn’t need to produce alcohol. It is just attempting to smell and taste like whiskey.
It turns out, the alcohol content in a beverage plays a major role in the way we taste and perceive flavors. This makes creating substitutes for alcoholic beverages fairly tricky, because you have to try and recreate the typical flavors, but not necessarily with the exact same ingredients or processes.
Ritual vs Lyres
Lyre’s makes a non-alcoholic whiskey, and the two have been compared in this article on best non-alcoholic whiskey. Whiskey is a difficult spirit to imitate. If the competition is Ritual vs Lyres, Lyre’s wins. It at least smells a lot like whiskey, making a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned smell real.
After so many mocktail tests, I really wanted to find the perfect beverage for Ritual Whiskey Alternative, but I still haven’t. After tasting a few non-alcoholic whiskeys, it’s clear that emulating the “hot sensation” one gets when drinking whiskey is going to be a major factor in developing a successful substitute.
So far, non-alcoholic whiskey has, in general, been underwhelming compared to other non-alcoholic spirits. None are perfect substitutes, and there are only a few mocktails I would recommend. As for Ritual Whiskey Alternative, I did not find it to be an acceptable non-alcoholic substitute for whiskey, nor did it perform well in alternative beverages, including a low ABV cocktail.
If you’re interested in experimenting with Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative, you can check the price here on Amazon.
Ingredients: Filtered Water, Cane Sugar, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as preservatives; PEANUT AND TREE NUT FREE, GLUTEN FREE, ALCOHOL FREE
American Oak, Madagascar Vanilla, Capsicum Fruit, Sugar Floss, Mesquite Smoke, Warm Caramel, Hemp Leaves, Green Peppercorn, Prickly Ash, Toasted Spices
Storage: Refrigeration not necessary. Consume within 6 months of opening.
Nutrition: Serving size: 1.5oz | 10 Calories; Fat 0g; Carbohydrates 2g; Sugar 1g; Sodium 0mg; Protein 0g*
*Nutrition information was found on the bottle and might be subject to change.