Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by NKD LDY. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
You might think that being assigned a non-alcoholic, whiskey alternative to review would illicit a groan of disappointment. I mean, one of the joys of reviewing whiskey in all its forms, is the excitement of tasting and analyzing another take on the craft of producing “traditional” brown liquors. However, I admit to being genuinely, positively intrigued to sample my first product in this fast-growing market segment. And the fact that NKD LDY starts their creation process with genuine Kentucky whiskey, had me even more curious.
The brand makes their approach clear, sating, “Unlike other no/low-alcohol spirits, we don’t start with water, but with actual distilled spirits. Our use of innovation and technology allows us to gently remove the alcohol fraction from the spirits…” and they further elaborate that the process involves, “vacuum distillation to further distill the high-quality spirits…removing the ethanol from the spirits you know and love.”
To put it lightly, the pursuit of creating a believable, no-proof whiskey is an incredible challenge. And of course, NKD LDY is not the first to make a go of it. In fact, here at The Whiskey Wash, we’ve covered several non-alcohol products and have reported rather varied experiences. Whatever the specific result of a particular creation, my bottom-line takeaway is this: crafting innovative, and hopefully delicious alcohol alternatives is an important and, dare I say it, noble undertaking. To recognize that not everyone is able to drink alcohol, or simply wants to reduce their intake, is to meet a significant market segment where they are. Products like this from NKD LDY, respects people’s differences as they strive to create an enjoyable product.
It’s important to remember that this whiskey alternative is just that: it’s an alternative and should not be judged on a one-to-one against traditionally distilled and aged whiskey. On the flip side, it is a product striving to replace (or cut/reduce) whiskey in traditional cocktails. Does it hold up? Well, my experience is nuanced and depended on how this product was used.
Tasting Notes: NKD LDY Whiskey Alternative
Vital Stats: NAS. 0 Proof, < .4% ABV. 5 calories, and 1 gram of sugar per serving. Mash bill: Undisclosed, but reverse-distilled from “real” Kentucky whiskey. 750ML. SRP: $34.99
Appearance: In the bottle, the color is rich auburn and hazelnut shell. Poured into my NEAT glass, the liquid retains a wonderful dark bronze mixed with lightly steeped black tea.
Nose: The nose leads with a subtly sweet, apple sauce aroma, followed by a hint of caramel, and if you really search for it, some of the pepper you’ll eventually experience on the palate.
Palate: Sipped neat, I experienced a thin, soft opening that reminded me of a lightly brewed front porch tea mixed with apple juice. Fortunately, this underwhelming initial taste was quickly replaced by a surprisingly complex and peppery mid-palate to finish. Second, I mixed this as a whiskey replacement in a traditional Old Fashioned and shared the cocktail with my partner. We both agreed: the result was interesting and overall positive. The flavor of this product enhanced the ingredients of the cocktail, and the peppery finish helped it (barely) not get lost.