Ritual Zero Proof’s Whiskey Alternative is one of the better known non alcoholic spirits on the market today.
Reading online reviews via Amazon or other sources you’ll see that opinions on this substitute are quite divided. Some seem to love it while others hate it.
Today, I’ll be trying out Ritual Whiskey Alternative and give you my opinion on this zero proof whiskey.
About Ritual Zero Proof
The Ritual Zero Proof brand launched in September 2019 with their Whiskey Alternative being one of the first 2 products they released.
Shortly after launching, this zero proof spirit won a silver metal under the category of the best tasting whiskey alternatives by the Beverage Testing Institute.
On the bottle, Ritual makes the following flavor highlights:
- Mesquite Smoke
- Capsicum Fruit
- Madagascar Vanilla
- American Oak
- Stone Fruit
- Sugar Floss
- Warm Caramel
- Toasted Spice
- Prickly Ash
- Black Peppercorn
They also state on the bottle that it’s advised to use this non alcoholic drink in a cocktail, which I believe is their roundabout way of saying, “You probably shouldn’t drink this neat.”
However, despite this advice, we’ll be trying out Ritual whiskey neat, on the rocks, as well as in some cocktails.
But, before we take the first taste, let’s go ahead and take a few sniffs and get the nose of the drink.
On the Nose
I’m not a huge fan of the nose on Ritual’s whiskey alternative.
My first impression of the smell reminds me of cough syrup tea. Now, I’ve never had cough syrup tea, but if there was such a thing I think it would smell like this.
The more that I focus on the aroma, I can begin to pick up on some of the other notes.
There’s a faint fruity like smell with some very light hints of honey.
One of the feelings I get from the nose is almost like an old apple juice smell, but when I just focus on that note in particular, I believe it’s more likely some type of wood smell that’s coming through.
There are hardly any notes in the nose that I would attribute to a typical American whiskey or bourbon.
Now despite my description of it, this zero proof doesn’t smell bad, but it doesn’t really smell like a drink.
If I were to be blindfolded and handed a glass of this, I would not think of liquor, but probably more like a candle.
Drinking Ritual’s Whiskey Neat
My initial sip of Ritual Zero Proof’s whiskey alternative left me neither wowed nor dismayed. Just kind of okay.
The viscosity of this non alcoholic whiskey is quite thick, which was one of the first things that I noticed. It’s not a bad feeling as it adds a little more to the drink, but it is a bit heavier than a traditional whiskey.
The taste carries a lot of smokey flavor. Especially after swallowing. The smoke flavor is left lingering in the mouth.
There’s a solid spice to the drink. Either from pepper or some other kind of capsaicin.
This is Ritual’s attempt at recreating the whiskey heat. It’s definitely not the same taste or effect that alcohol produces, but that’s a pretty hard sensation to recreate.
When taking a sip, I do pick up on some very faint hints of caramel which are immediately replaced by an oaky type of taste.
The bottle states a number of flavors that I don’t pick up on, including, stone fruit, Madagascar vanilla, sugar floss, and capsicum fruit.
On the Rocks
Not much changes in the way of the flavor when on the rocks
The consistency remains about the same. Though obviously, that would change once the ice melted, and it became more watered down.
I do pick up some more of the initial fruity type notes with it on the rocks. It kind of tones down the smokey flavor a little bit.
I’m still not picking up on any type of vanilla flavors within the drink.
Letting it sit for just a few minute while I’m typing and the drink is getting watered down pretty quickly even though I’m using a whiskey ice cube.
After it sat for a few minutes there’s still a pretty strong oaky flavor and spicy heat after about 5 seconds after swallowing, but a lot of the other flavors are starting to get watered down.
Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Non Alcoholic Cocktail Recipes
Ritual provides a number of recipes that they recommend using with their non alcoholic spirit.
I’m going to start off by making the Old Fashioned and review.
Depending on how well it does with this classic cocktail, I might make some of their other cocktail recommendations to see how well Ritual’s whiskey holds up in a mocktail.
Ritual Old Fashioned
- 2 ounces of Ritual’s whiskey alternative
- 1 dash of water
- 2 dashes of a non alcoholic aromatic bitters (they recommend Angostura)
- 1 ounce of simple syrup or a sugar cube
- A cherry and an orange slice for garnish
- Add sugar cube and bitters together in an old fashioned glass
- Add dash of water
- Muddle the sugar cube with the bitters and water until sugar is completely dissolved, and you’re left with a sludge like paste
- Add in ice and Rituals whiskey alternative
- Stir until chilled
- Garnish with the orange slice and skewered cherry
I have a base recipe that I typically use when I’m mixing my own old fashioned. However, I typically like to review the manufacturer’s recommended recipe to see what they recommend. As there may be flavors that are highlighted by different variations of the recipe.
However, after reading through their recipe, there were changes that I knew needed to happen.
First off, the amount of added sugar or simple syrup being used in this recipe would result in a drink that’s way too sweet, especially for the lack of kick in the whiskey alternative itself.
Also, due to my experience with drinking this on the rocks, I knew there was no need to add any water to this recipe since it got watered down so quickly just sitting with a cube of whisky ice.
The following is my modified recipe:
- 2 ounces of Ritual’s whiskey alternative
- 1 tsp of Demerara simple syrup
- 1 dash of Bitter Truth bitters
- 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters
- Slice of orange peel and lemon peel
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass (minus the orange and lemon peel)
- Add ice and stir for just a couple of seconds. (If you’re using a metal mixing glass you’ll feel the chill on the outside. If you’re using glass, it may not feel cold yet, but if you stir too long it will get too watered down)
- Strain into an old fashioned glass with a whiskey ice cube
- Express orange peel over the drink and then rub the peel along the outside perimeter of the lip of the glass
- Next, express the lemon peel over the drink (do not rub it on the lip of the glass)
- Twist the two peels together and place as garnish
This is not a bad tasting drink. The smokey mesquite flavor comes through pretty strongly in this non alcoholic whiskey cocktail. Especially in the beginning of the drink.
The Demerara simple syrup that I used, brings out and amplifies the honey notes that I really wasn’t picking up in the taste when drinking it neat or on the rocks.
Flavor’wise it has some very interesting notes to it and replicates some of the flavors you’d get from a traditional old fashioned, however it definitely lacks the intensity of the original.
The beauty of the old fashioned is in the way you curb some edge and harshness off of your bourbon or whiskey. In this way you’re able to pick up on various flavors that you’d otherwise miss due to the intensity of the alcohol hitting your palate.
However, if you were to take away all of the intensity, you wouldn’t have an old fashioned. You’d have… something else.
Unfortunately, that’s what you end up with here.
Now, the flavor of the Ritual Zero Proof Old Fashioned is actually pretty good, especially when using my modifications, but I don’t think that I could say that this is close enough to the original to call it a genuine old fashioned replica.
Once the Ritual whiskey is mixed with all of the other ingredients it gets lost pretty quickly.
Even with as few ingredients as an old fashioned has, you end up with a mostly sweetened smoked flavor drink.
Again, this isn’t bad.
It actually has a pretty good taste to it, but it wasn’t good enough for me that I’m going to make the effort to try out any of their other recipes listed below.
Ritual Whiskey Smash
- 2 ounces Ritual whiskey alternative
- .75 ounce simple syrup
- Half of a lemon
- 8 mint leaves
- Sprig of mint for garnish
- Cut lemon into wedges
- Place mint leaves, simple syrup, and lemon wedges into a cocktail shaker and muddle together
- Add in Ritual whiskey and then ice
- Shake until well chilled and strain into an old fashioned glass with whisky ice
- Smack the sprig of mint in your hands to release its oils and then place on the drink for garnish
Ritual VIP Welcome
- 2 ounces of Ritual Whiskey
- .75 ounces of lemon juice
- 1 ounce of pineapple juice
- .25 ounce of grenadine
- .75 ounces of orange juice
- .5 ounces of honey syrup
- Combine all of the ingredients together into a cocktail shaker
- Add ice and thoroughly shake
- Strain into a tall thin glass and add in ice until glass is full
Ritual Meet Me At The Porch
- 2 ounces of Ritual
- 1 ounce of sweet tea syrup
- 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 ounces of sparkling tonic water or club soda
- Lemon wheel for garnish
- Combine Ritual whiskey, sweat tea syrup, and citrus juice into a cocktail shaker
- Add ice and shake until well chilled
- Strain into a glass with ice and top off with the sparkling water
- Garnish with the lemon wheel
Overall, Ritual’s whiskey alternative is okay, but I don’t really like it.
The flavor is decent.
It has some smoke, oak, and caramel notes to it, but despite these items, it doesn’t replicate the flavor of a whiskey that well.
Additionally, it lacks almost all of the intensity you’d expect out of a good whiskey.
I’m not in the camp that I’d say that it tastes bad, but the flavor isn’t to the point. that I would purchase this again.
Since I’ve read a number of positive reviews for this non alcoholic version I won’t say not to get it, but if you do, understand it seems to have a polarizing response.
Personally, I am not a fan and there are some other zero proof whiskeys that I like a lot more.
Once I get the reviews up, I’ll link to them here.