As a loyal reader of this site, you may have read quite some stories similar to that of the birth of Ginish. Nevertheless, we take a closer look at the history of the drink. Morten Sørensen, from Denmark, did an alcohol-free 100-day challenge a few years ago and was particularly disappointed that he could not occasionally enjoy a nice cocktail. He also concluded that it was a pity that apparently there was alcohol involved on almost every event. With ISH Spirits, Morten Sørensen wanted to launch a drink for people who like to enjoy a nice cocktail with friends, but don’t want to drink alcohol. So he started to develop the non-alcoholic GinISH and RumISH, two drinks that are perfect for athletes, pregnant women, designated drivers or just for someone who wants to wake up without a hangover after a night out.
As the name of the two drinks suggests, GinISH is an alternative to Gin and RumISH is an alternative to (dark) Rum. While most non-alcoholic distillates focus primarily on the taste of the alcoholic beverages for which they are a stand-in, ISH spirits also try to create the burning sensation you get when drinking a glass of alcohol. To achieve that effect, in the production of GinISH Chili is used, a hot pepper that has to cause a hot sensation in the throat.
Chili con Tonic
First of all we have to say that the GinISH looks a bit cloudy. There are other alternatives that look slightly turbid, but in this it’s very obvious. You should not think that something is wrong when you see that your bottle of GinISH is not completely clear, the label states that this is normal and that the ‘mist’ that you see in the bottle comes from the botanicals used. As usual, we first drink a undiluted shot of GinISH. Not what it is made for, we know, but this is the best way to compare it with other drinks.
And it soon becomes clear that the pure stuff causes an intense tingling in the throat. If we drink a quick shot of GinISH après-ski-style, but for once without Austrian schlagermusic in the background, it really seems like you are drinking a spirit with a considerable percentage of alcohol in it. Even in the aftertaste the pepper stays in the throat for quite a long time. Juniper and coriander are used as botanicals in the GinISH. You can definitely taste them, but they are slightly dominated by the chili. Finally you taste a bitterness that reminds us of some lemon zest.
The drink contains no added sugar and contains hardly any calories, only six per 100 ml. Almost negligible, especially when you take into account that in a mocktail you will use a maximum of six cl. This GinISH therefore succeeds in eliminating the harmful effects of sugar in addition to the effects of alcohol.
Because we want to taste the GinISH the way it will probably be served the most, we tried it mixed with a neutral tonic. We used, as prescribed in the recipe booklet, 5 cl. GinISH with 10 cl. of tonic to make our G&T. When tasting, it seemed at first that the tonic had largely canceled out the effect of the chili, which we found a bit of a shame. But… only a few moments later we had to adjust our opinion. After swallowing the G&T, the chili pepper starts to do its work again and provides a pleasant warm feeling, both on the tongue and in the throat. The botanicals used are still perceptible, but are also dominated by the chili in the cocktail.
When we finally smell the bottle, we notice that we have smelled other distillates that, perhaps because juniper plays a greater role in these drinks, are more reminiscent of the smell of Gin. This GinISH makes up for this by its unique mouthfeel though.
Other alcohol-free distillates, sometimes overwhelmed us by the abundant flavours of juniper and other botanicals. Only occasionally did this explosion of flavours cause a stimuli in the throat. This GinISH has a slightly less spicy taste, but provides a very clear tingling in the throat and a nice warm feeling in the mouth that lingers even after mixing with tonic. If you are charmed by this spicy flavour, you will definitely enjoy this GinISH. If you prefer the taste and smell of botanicals, you might prefer to choose another alternative. We definitely recommend that you try a cocktail with GinISH when you have the opportunity, because it could very well be that this is the mouthfeel you are looking for.
You can check on the website of ISH Spirits where you can buy GinISH. We noticed that not all points of sale are mentioned there, but I guess they will be happy to help you with finding some GinISH in your neighbourhood when you contact them.