A few months ago, I posted a review of Spiritless Kentucky 74, a “distilled non-alcoholic spirit for Bourbon Cocktails”.
It wasn’t a positive review.
After months of anticipation, the product fell short. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought the Bourbon alternative missed the mark. Shortly after posting, a reader reached out via eMail, stating that my review was “spot on”. He had contacted the company with his concerns about a chemical aftertaste and they decided to send him another bottle.
Around this same time, Spiritless eMailed me a short survey, asking for feedback on the product. I obliged. In detail. 😉 I also forwarded the survey results and eMail to the Spiritless Customer support eMail. A team member wrote back about a week later, stating that they had “changed the formula” and asked if I would be interested in trying the new bottle. They explained that they would send the bottle, free of charge, the only request: if I liked it, I would share with my friends and write a review. If I didn’t like it? Dump the bottle, and no harm no foul.
I received the new bottle about three weeks after agreeing to their demands (ha!). And, to stay true to my word, here is my review of the second bottle of Spiritless Kentucky 74…
COST: $35.99 and $4.90 shipping and handling (although this replacement bottle was free to me)
TIME TO RECEIVE: First time around, it took over seven months to receive my purchase. This time? Only three weeks. Gold star for Spiritless!
NUTRITIONAL VALUE: 15 calories, 4g carbohydrates, 1g sugar
LOOK: The bottle is STILL aesthetically pleasing! A nice, solid glass bottle with a decent punt indentation. I had a lot of fun checking out the assortment of little pictures on the bottle. As stated before, there was definitely some thought put into the label. I still feel this bottle would be a lovely addition to a bar shelf. One teeny-tiny OCD “complaint” – the label doesn’t line up on the back of the bottle.
I know. Trivial, right? I told you it was OCD.
SMELL: It smells like Bourbon. Like, the initial whiff after popping the cork smells strong. I had to check the label to ensure that it was non-alcoholic spirits they sent!
This could be a good thing or a bad thing…. this would have been a great N/A replacement in the beginning of my sobriety journey. Now? It made me gag a little. To be honest, I put off this review for a couple of weeks because the smell was so strong and so close to “real alcohol”. Once I finally pulled the trigger to sit down and write this review, I did find that the smell does quickly dissipate into a watered down whiskey smell after sitting in a rocks glass for a few minutes.
TASTE: It tastes like a cheap, slightly-watered down whiskey. There is a chemical aftertaste that is more pronounced than before. I didn’t taste any of the smoky notes that I did in the last bottle; no flavor layers at all, actually. There is minimal sweetness to this bottle as well (so long, campfire marshmallow). Ice seems to smooth out the initial flavor, but there is still a pretty strong aftertaste that I can’t get past. (I had to brush my teeth after this taste test because of the bourbon flavor in my mouth.) It has a slight burn to it, but again, not as pronounced as Ritual.
- Previously, my favorite way to enjoy Bourbon was with two cherries and a splash of maraschino cherry juice. Kentucky 74 served the same way? Not bad. Not good, but more palatable than neat or on the rocks. The cherry juice cuts some of the chemical taste out.
- Bourbon and Bitters: Bleh. It tastes like I picked a leaf off a tree and ate it. Bitter, chemical, not good. I would choose bitters in sparkling water over this, any day of the week.
- Kentucky Mule: ginger beer, lime juice, Kentucky 74, and a mint sprig. Hmmm….. the jury is out on this one. Like before, it is a pretty tasty cocktail, but the bourbon-alternative flavor is only a mild aftertaste. And that aftertaste is more chemical than bourbon.
I am sitting at 231 days sober, as of today. And I am ecstatic to report that I don’t miss alcohol.
Let me rephrase that… I don’t miss the taste/smell of alcohol. At least, I don’t miss the taste/smell of wine or hard alcohol. I about barfed in the middle of a grocery store when I happened upon a broken bottle of red. I turned green talking to a friend a few days ago who had booze on her breath. My sense of smell is in hyper drive for some reason, and I can pick up the scent of alcohol (and weed) a mile away. Each time, it turns my stomach. I have some serious training to do if I am going to keep a smile on my face at my daughter’s wedding in October. Her wedding, albeit a gorgeous venue, that is being held at a winery.
I haven’t completely turned my nose up at the N/A versions of alcohol. I find the occasional N/A beer refreshing, especially after a long run (hello, Well Being Victory Wheat, I’m talking to you with your beautiful electrolytes and slim 85 calories). I am enjoy the complexities of some amazing craft N/A beers that have found. I think it’s funny how our taste buds change, even over seven short months. If you would have told me that the smell of red wine and bourbon or whiskey would make me gag, and I would enjoy craft beer, I would have thought you were crazy.
And while I don’t miss the taste or smell, occasionally, I do miss the ability to numb myself to whatever shit I am dealing with at the moment. Let’s not lose sight of that one. Because, dammit, sitting with emotions and feelings and stressors and annoyances of everyday life are a motherfucker sometimes.
This journey has been hard work, but I am fully engaged. I celebrate my small wins (not throwing the kids’ ‘Bop-It’ game out of a moving vehicle) and my bigger milestones (attending a function where everyone but the kids are shitfaced, and still walk out the door sober). I look forward to my future growth and accomplishments in this sobriety journey.
As far as Spiritless Kentucky 74, non-alcoholic bourbon alternative? If you are early in the stages of sobriety and you yearn for the “comfort” of a bourbon, this may get you through some cravings, or at least provide you with a product to cut the “real stuff” with. For someone who no longer craves/needs the alcohol taste? Don’t waste your money.