About seven months ago, I happened upon an advertisement for Spiritless Kentucky 74 Bourbon. This advertisement did exactly what it was supposed to do: it sold an experimental teetotaler on the idea of an alcohol free spirit. For someone who (previously) loved Bourbon, this was huge!
I should probably preface this by saying that when I ordered this distilled, non-alcoholic spirit, I was smack dab in the middle of one of my longest alcohol free stints. I hadn’t yet reached my ‘Sobriety Day 1’. At this point, I was still flirting with the idea of sobriety.
I say this because, back then, I tried to fill the void of alcohol with non-alcoholic versions. I still love the occasional NA Beer (I’m talking to you, Well Being Victory Wheat), but I no longer crave the NA wine or NA mixed drinks or “alcohol burn” like I used to. Now? I am perfectly content with my seltzer water or Diet A&W Root Beer.
With that being said, when I made the Kentucky 74 purchase, I was still very much in need of Bourbon. I placed the order at the end of September 2020 and promptly received an eMail: Thanks for your purchase! Your order will be shipping some time in October!
Mid November, after still not receiving my order, I sent an inquiry. Sorry for the delay, you will be receiving your order in December, they stated.
December 20th, I sent another eMail explaining how this was going to be a Christmas gift (to me – they didn’t need to know that). I received a response that due to shipping issues, it wouldn’t arrive by Christmas, but they were confident that I would receive by New Year’s.
On January 5th, I sent another eMail, asking when I could anticipate arrival. They weren’t able to get all of the shipments out, they said, but it would be shortly.
At the end of January, I sent another eMail <At this point, I’m thinking that I had just been taken for the biggest NA scam of a lifetime>. This response blamed COVID, blah, blah, blah, but promised that my order would ship within 2-3 weeks.
Do I need to continue? This sort of back and forth occurred up until today, when I finally received my bottle.
I don’t even fucking want it anymore.
But, if it will help any of you, who are looking for a little crutch to get yourself through the alcohol cravings, here is my review:
COST: $35.99 and $4.90 shipping and handling
NUTRITIONAL VALUE: 15 calories, 4g carbohydrates, 1g sugar (can’t beat that with a stick!)
LOOK: The bottle is aesthetically pleasing! It’s a nice, solid glass bottle with a decent punt indentation (which I always associated with top notch wine as having). There was definitely some thought put into the label; this bottle would be a lovely addition to a bar shelf.
SMELL: Honestly? It smells like watered down Coca-Cola.
TASTE: Um…. this is a hard one. So, it doesn’t taste like watered down Coca-Cola. At least, not initially. I tried it off and “on the rocks”. Neat, it tastes like a sweet campfire. Like what I imagine the water collected out of a fire pit after a hard rain knocked a marshmallow into the ashes would taste like. On the rocks, the sweet flavor is faded, the smoky flavor is more prominent, however there is a slight chemical aftertaste that I can’t quite place. It does not have the burn that the Ritual Brand Whiskey alternative has. Not bad, just not Bourbon.
- I never mixed Bourbon. At least, not the good stuff. My favorite way to enjoy was with two cherries and a splash of maraschino cherry juice. Kentucky 74 served the same way? Watered down Cherry Coke.
- Bourbon and Bitters: I actually enjoy plain seltzer water and bitters better. Kentucky 74 and bitters creates several different flavor layers that don’t seem to pair well with each other. Like a marshmallow dipped in A1 sauce.
- Kentucky Mule: ginger beer, lime juice, Kentucky 74, and a mint sprig. Pretty tasty cocktail, but the bourbon-alternative flavor is only a mild aftertaste.
Overall, Kentucky 74 was disappointing. Maybe seven months of building expectations and anticipation left a sour taste in my mouth?
Spiritless provided a booklet with recipes on how to cut alcohol with their product. Maybe Kentucky 74 would function well in this capacity, but I feel it fell flat as a standalone.
I think the minds behind Spiritless are on the right path. Our society needs alcohol free alternatives, especially on the restaurant/bar scene. But the Kentucky 74 Bourbon alternative needs some work. If somehow they could intensify the flavor and add that Ritual burn, they would have a GREAT product. Until then, I’ll just stick to sipping water out of our fire pit, if I’m looking for a Bourbon alternative. Or not.