Are you having a “Dry January” following the usual over-indulgences of the festive period? Or perhaps you’re considering making some longer-term changes for the benefit of your health in 2020 and looking to moderate your alcohol consumption? Whatever your reasons, you’ll be glad to know that these days there are plenty of options for non-drinkers who don’t want to sink to sipping sugary soft drinks all evening, so you can still drink but without “drinking”.
Alongside the huge range of “no and low” alcohol beers on offer, there is also a growing number of great non-alcoholic spirits particularly suited to those of you who enjoy (or enjoyed) a gin and tonic.
2019 saw the launch of a Cornish botanical non-alcoholic spirit, Pentire, which is distilled using unique plants that are native to the Cornish coastline. Their first infusion, Adrift, is a blend of rock samphire, sage, citrus, Cornish sea salt and a number of plants foraged from Pentire (the headland at Polzeath on the coast of North Cornwall), we’ve been enjoying its herbaceous flavours in plenty of “Free and T’s” this January. To find out more about Pentire, we caught up with its founder and creator, Alistair Frost.
For those that are unfamiliar with the term, what is a non-alcoholic distilled botanical spirit?
We call it a spirit because we’re still doing distillation just like you’d do with gin or vodka, so we’re distilling plants. The process is steam distillation and we get these lovely natural organic run-offs of delicious liquids. When we distill it, it’s much more technical than distilling a gin – we have to be really careful with the temperature and pressure inside the still because we’re distilling handfuls of fresh plants and we’ve got to be really careful that we don’t burn them. It’s a much more delicate process than gin; we’re not using any dried botanicals or spices so it’s quite technical.
What’s the flavour profile, and how and why did you design it that way?
We use three words: coastal, herbaceous and fresh. The reason why we went with that flavour profile is that we wanted to have a bottle and a flavour profile that was shaped by its surroundings. When you’re standing on a Cornish headland you get all those amazing top-notes; it’s grassy, it’s clean, it’s earthy, and also slightly salty and slightly citrus. When you’re distilling plants like rock samphire that grows in that environment on a headland and cliff-tops, they distill really well. Rock samphire is in the carrot family, it’s got a really high water content and its flavour is perfect to give a customer that taste of the coast.
What makes the Pentire headland a unique environment for these plants?
The reason why we named it Pentire is it was originally just a holding name for the project; it had really good provenance, it had good origin, it’s two syllables, it’s fresh, it’s easy to say and easy to remember, but what we realised when we started foraging on and around Pentire with a few of Cornwall’s best botanists, is that it’s got some of the best range in plant life out of any are of the UK coast. That’s because it’s got a unique climate, it’s got a really unique soil pH and air moisture. And that’s why it’s got such a huge range of plants, and of wildlife to boot.
Non-alcoholic spirits are becoming ever more popular. Why do you think this is?
This is probably for a number of reasons. Outside of drinks, people are being health conscious, aware of their calorific intake, and aware of the health benefits of not drinking. In Pentire there’s only two calories per serve, it’s got zero sugar, it’s got zero salt, so there’s those health benefits. There’s also the whole ride-off from the gin boom as well, so everyone can relate to a gin and tonic.
What is the best way to enjoy Pentire?
When people ask, “how do you drink Pentire?”, we say that you drink it just like a gin and tonic, and everyone can relate to that. It’s a double shot, 50ml, served with tonic and garnished with a sprig of rosemary or a bit of lemon peel.
And where can our readers and followers pick up a bottle?
We sell through our website pentiredrinks.com where we offer free next-day delivery, and in terms of where people can pick it up ort try it, in Cornwall you can order a Pentire at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, at any of the Paul Ainsworth Group restaurants, Prawn on the Lawn, and in terms of retailers places like Dalesford and The Pig.