If you are on the search for a great tasting alcohol free whiskey, you are not alone. In this review, we will cover everything you need to know about Spiritless Kentucky 74 so you can make a more informed decision about which non-alcoholic spirit is right for your virgin bourbon cocktails.
Spiritless was founded by three bourbon-loving, foodie women looking for a better option for a non-alcoholic drink. I love their story and their mission. It resonates, and I want to love their product.
Bottom line: Spiritless Kentucky 74 is sweet and smoky, but not an exact flavor substitute for bourbon. However, It’s decent in some alcohol free whiskey cocktails, as evidenced here and by many reviewers.
Best enjoyed in: Zero Proof Whiskey Sour
Whiskey is hot and Kentucky 74 just can’t cut through most ingredients in whiskey cocktails. After tasting several alcohol free whiskeys, I have learned this is a common denominator. Overall, they end up being perceived as too sweet.
How it’s made: Spiritless starts by distilling a full-proof neutral grain spirit with oak in various chars, then distills it again to remove the alcohol. At the end, a small amount of essence is added back in to create a bourbon-like feel. The end product has 0.5% alcohol by volume.
When looking for the right non-alcoholic spirit for your alcohol free drinks, consider what you want to get out of that beverage. For example, do you want a drink that will remind you of or taste like your favorite cocktail? Do you want a creative beverage with a new flavor that does NOT taste like an alcoholic cocktail? Are you looking for low calories, low sugar, or both?
Only you can decide what is most important to you. All of these factors were considered when evaluating Kentucky 74 so that you can decide if it’s the right pick for you.
There are possible health benefits associated with drinking some non-alcoholic drinks, the most prominent being less calories. Alcohol has significantly more calories than most of the non-alcoholic spirits I have tasted, and replacing it with Spiritless in your mocktails means over 100 calories less per drink!
In order to thoughtfully review a product, it must be thoroughly tested. Here’s the method taken for taste testing non alcoholic spirits at Master of Mocktails:
What does Spiritless Kentucky 74 non-alcoholic whiskey taste like…
- On ice
- On ice with tonic or appropriate single mixer
- Brand recommended mocktails
- Get creative
Before tasting, it smells a bit like charred wood chips and vanilla with a hint of spice. Though it is only one perspective, here is what it tastes like to me: charred wood chip water, lightly sweetened. The smokiness is fairly prominent, so that might carry through in the mocktails.
#2 On Ice
After adding some ice, Spiritless Kentucky 74 is sweeter, and you don’t taste as much of the oak flavoring.
#3 On Ice with Tonic
Ah, the whiskey highball. With Kentucky 74, this non alcoholic highball is not bad (for a highball), if you really need the essence of this cocktail without the alcohol. Otherwise, this is a pass for me. Club soda would not be better either. For more standard mixers, jump to the section on what others are saying.
#4 Brand Recommended Mocktails featuring Kentucky 74
When taste-testing a product, brand recommended drinks are a great place to start. It helps to understand how the product was designed to be enjoyed, and what types of flavors pair best with it.
So, here are a few classic cocktail recipes (and some of my favorite whiskey cocktails) featured by Spiritless and what they actually taste like with Kentucky 74 in them:
VIRGIN OLD FASHIONED
- 2.25 oz. Spiritless Kentucky 74
- ¼ oz. Simple Syrup
- 3 Dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters
- Orange Peel
Directions: Combine in double rocks glass and add ice. Stir until chilled.
Verdict:This is too sweet and syrupy. It smells more smoky with the Fee bros aromatics added than it does on its own, but as a “spirit-forward” cocktail, this is not enjoyable.
ZERO PROOF WHISKEY SOUR
- 2 oz. Spiritless Kentucky 74
- 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Egg Whites
- Orange Wheel (garnish)
Directions: Dry shake ingredients in a shaker without ice for a minute. Add ice and shake till cold. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.
Don’t skip the first dry shake. It’s what will make your foam perfect!
Verdict: This is a pretty tasty drink. Though not a flavor substitute for the classic cocktail, I enjoyed sipping on this. The lemon compliments Kentucky 74 well.
VIRGIN MINT JULEP
- 2 oz Spiritless Kentucky 74
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 4-6 fresh mint leaves
Directions: Measure and combine simple syrup and mint into a julep cup and muddle. Add Kentucky 74. Fill with crushed ice and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Verdict: The Spiritless virgin mint julep is sweet and it’s hard to taste the spirit. On the other hand, this would be nice on a hot summer day. Tastes mostly like mint syrup on ice or like iced mint tea. Consider increasing the amount of Spiritless used in order to taste it more.
VIRGIN KENTUCKY MULE
- 2 oz Spiritless Kentucky 74
- .5oz lime juice
- Fever Tree Refreshingly Light Ginger beer
- Lime wedge
- Mint sprig
Directions: Pour Kentucky 74 and lime juice over ice into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.
Verdict: If you like cocktails with ginger beer, you’ll probably like this. The smokiness comes through and gives this non-alcoholic whiskey mule an “essence of whiskey” flavor. This is a pretty decent non-alcoholic substitute for a whiskey based mule.
Spiritless Kentucky 74 is a better whiskey substitute in a Kentucky Mule than the originally listed Lyre’s American Malt, and the full recipe has been updated.
Don’t just take my word for it – This article also covers which mocktails and mixer other reviewers have loved with Spiritless Kentucky 74 here (link will jump to that section).
#5 Get Creative
Since alcohol free whiskey lacks the hot sensation, let’s try it in a cocktail with another spirit and see how it stacks up as a lower ABV cocktail. After that, some basic mixers are considered for some simple homemade mocktails.
LOW ABV MANHATTAN
- 2oz Spiritless Kentucky 74
- 1oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
- 2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Directions: Put all ingredients in a glass and stir with ice until cold. Strain into a coupe glass.
Verdict: Unfortunately, this did not work. Kentucky 74’s sweetness made this syrupy and undrinkable. Not recommended in this particular use.
Spiritless also recommends trying your bourbon “halfsies,” as in half real whiskey, half Kentucky 74 to cut down on the alcohol in your beverage. Since so many reviewers also mentioned using it this way, I couldn’t resist the urge to try.
Using equal parts quality 100 proof bourbon and Kentucky 74: As expected, the Kentucky 74 most definitely changes the flavor, so sipping neat is not recommended. This could possibly work in some cocktails, as reviews have suggested, but don’t use an expensive bourbon.
However, keep this in mind: Kentucky 74 will add a sweet and possibly syrupy character to a cocktail, so adjust ingredients accordingly. When mixed with alcoholic whiskey, its smoky flavor is not as prominent as when it is used on its own.
SPIRITLESS KENTUCKY 74 vs RITUAL ZERO PROOF WHISKEY ALTERNATIVE
Spiritless performed better as a substitution in more classic cocktails than Ritual Whiskey Alternative or Lyre’s American Malt. Read the full review for more details on the best non alcoholic whiskeys available.
SPIRITLESS KENTUCKY 74 REVIEWS
Taste is subjective, which is why I have shared mine, but also did the research for you. Across 3 websites with several hundred user reviews, here is what other people think of Kentucky 74. The reviews analyzed for this sample were the reviews with written descriptions.
- 17% of tasters thought Kentucky 74 does not taste like bourbon, while 6% thought it did
- 40% loved it most with mixers or as a mocktail
- Common tasting notes included sweet, smoky/oaky, and watery
- 13% prefer mixing it with alcoholic whiskey for a lower ABV drink
Overall, 68% of tasters loved Kentucky 74, 26% considered it “not bad” or were pleasantly surprised, but 6% found it just ok or not good at all.
As for mixers and mocktails Kentucky 74, the favorites mentioned repeatedly were eggnog, manhattan, mocktails with alcohol free beer, and ginger beer or ginger ale.
Overall, Spiritless outperformed the other previously tasted alcohol free whiskeys in cocktails. It’s definitely “an essence of” product rather than a flavor substitute. While I personally did not love it in most drinks, an overwhelming number of tasters do.
If you absolutely love bourbon in cocktails and want a virgin bourbon that tastes the same, you might like Kentucky 74. If you are looking for something to sip on, you will likely be disappointed.
Also, if you are serving whiskey cocktails at a party and want a non-alcoholic option that will fit neatly in the menu, go with Kentucky 74.
Whiskey is a tough beverage to imitate, but I’m always on the lookout, so be sure to check back for more product reviews.
Click here for the latest price for Spiritless Kentucky 74 on Amazon.
If you’re interested in more mocktails that are easy to make at home using various non-alcoholic spirits, be sure to check out the full recipe collection, or filter by categories in the main menu. Recipes are added to the collection once tasted and approved.
If you tried any of these mocktails or created your own using Spiritless Kentucky 74, connect with us on Instagram using tag @masterofmocktails or #masterofmocktails!
Ingredients: Spiritless Non-Alcoholic Oak Distillate, Water, Natural Flavors, Glycerine, Sugar, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Potassium Sorbate (preservative)
Nutrition: Serving size 2fl oz | 15 calories, Fat 0g, Sodium 0mg, Carbohydrates 4g, Total Sugars 1g, Protein 0g*
After opening, drink within 6 months. No need to refrigerate.
*Nutrition information was found on the bottle and might be subject to change.
COMMON FAQ FOR VIRGIN BOURBON
What are non alcoholic spirits?
Non alcoholic spirits is a broad term used to define alcohol alternatives created to be enjoyed in non-alcoholic cocktails. Some are made as alcohol, then the alcohol is removed, like Kentucky 74. Meanwhile, others are water-based blends with natural botanical extracts for flavor. Some mimic the flavor of a particular alcoholic spirit, while others are entirely new beverages with creative flavors.
Is alcohol free whiskey any good?
As mentioned above, all of the alcohol free whiskey tasted is not great on its own, due to lacking the hot sensation in alcohol. The flavor is not a substitute for whiskey, but that doesn’t necessarily classify a product as good or bad. A delicious alternative beverage can be made with virgin bourbon, as evidenced by experimenting with Spiritless Kentucky 74.
Is there a non-alcoholic Jack Daniels?
As of the time of writing this review, there is not a non-alcoholic version of Jack Daniels whiskey.
Is there an alcohol free bourbon?
Spiritless was actually registered as the 74th bourbon distillery in Kentucky, making it the first alcohol free bourbon.