When mixed with tonic, the low alcohol spirit can make cocktails that are less than one percent ABV.

By Mike Pomranz
July 02, 2019
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Canned cocktails and hard seltzer have been a growing trend for drinkers looking for an alternative to beer. But over in England, a distillery has gone even further, attempting to recreate a full-blown “gin” (in quotes because it doesn’t fit the legal definition of gin) that has the same ABV as a Miller Lite.

This month, London-based gin brand Portobello Road will launch “Temperance” — “a new lower alcohol spirit” that clocks in at just 4.2-percent ABV which “has been crafted especially for gin-fans who are looking to moderate their intake of alcohol yet don’t want to compromise on flavor.” According to the brand, that means this drink is “distilled using the same nine time-honored botanicals that comprise Portobello Road Gin’s signature London Dry and Navy Strength.” But to dial down the alcohol (way down), co-founder Jake F. Burger “developed bespoke techniques and added additional ingredients, such as naturally high mineral content water, botanical hydrosols and one or two secret ingredients to ensure the spirit harbors the intensity of flavor, texture and depth demanded by the modern drinker.”

Despite the low ABV, Temperance isn’t intended to be drunk straight like a mixed drink in a can: It’s supposed to replace gin entirely. Portobello Road recommends mixing it with a premium tonic water and twist of pink grapefruit, bringing the ABV down even further. The brand boasts that a one-part-to-four-parts “gin and tonic” made with Temperance would be less than one percent ABV.

“Everything we do here at Portobello Road Gin is inspired by gin’s rich heritage and while we would never call Temperance a gin — as it is below 37.5% — it was important to us that the spirit retained the flavor and texture of a classic gin,” Burger explained.  “In fact the juniper, cassia bark and citrus notes are even more pronounced in Temperance, resulting in an unmistakably ginny flavor. The bold, aromatic qualities of Temperance mean that when mixed with tonic or in a cocktail its character and depth are incredibly pronounced…. We anticipate Temperance being used as the only base spirit in long very low alcohol drinks and also as an ingredient in drinks using multiple spirits where bartenders are looking to lower the overall ABV.”

Temperance is said to have an “intensely aromatic” nose, “reminiscent of gin but not entirely representative of it.” On the palate, the distillery says it’s “instantly weighty, with viscosity and a pleasant acidic sharpness, in the mouth the citrus, floral, and particularly the winter spice notes are more pronounced than the nose would suggest, they eventually give way to juniper and pepper.” Finally, it finishes “long on the palate and lingers seductively in the nose.”

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