Lyre’s offers a premium range of 13 non-alcoholic variants, crafted to pay homage to the flavours of the world’s most classic, time tested spirits. Its portfolio includes Absinthe, Amaretto, Vermouth Rosso, Triple Sec and Coffee liquor. It has dabbled with ingredients such as chilli and pepper-based extracts to add length and carry to the palate and imitate the warmth of alcohol.
Lyre’s made its debut in Australia earlier this year: and is already expanding to the UK, US, New Zealand and Singapore. “The UK market is really leading the development of the trend,” says the brand.
The building blocks of spirits
The brand was created in 2017 by Mark Livings, and spent two years developing its products before hitting shelves this year. The products are made using all-natural essences, extracts and distillates in an endeavour to match the aroma, taste and appearance of traditional spirits: without using alcohol as a base.
“Our name is inspired by the lyrebird, the world’s greatest mimic, and our range is designed to be the most successful mimic of the classic style of spirits, in a non-alcohol version,” explained Paul Gloster, Lyre’s Chief Marketing Office.
“We’re really happy with our range and excited we can now offer consumers the choice of no or low alcohol drinks but with the same great, adult, tastes they love.”
Lyre’s has been designed to replicate the ‘basic building blocks of the classics’ – thereby offering myriad occasions in simple mixed drinks or more extravagant cocktails. The brand also offers consumers the flexibility to choose a lower alcohol spirit-based drink, simply by substituting one of multiple alcoholic ingredients from a traditional cocktail, resulting in a lower alcohol alternative.
Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits are not created by distillation, but by blending natural essences and extracts.
“We believe this painstaking process delivers a far superior result to that of first distilling an alcoholic spirit, only to put it through a secondary process that strips out the alcohol, and with it, much of the flavour,” says Lyre’s flavour architect David Murphy.
"People might want to change their own drinking styles or preferences in regards to alcohol, but they won't need to in relation to flavour."
David compares crafting a non-alcoholic spirit to blending a wine: by experimenting with combining each flavour component in different percentages.
Added challenges are to replicate the mouthfeel and flavour contribution of alcohol.
"When you're tasting a wine, you're looking at glycerol characters, which influence weight and how it finishes to lengthen the palate," he says.
"Depending on which product, we've used a small amount of chilli or pepper-based extracts, that add length and carry to the palate and give a bit of a false alcoholic burn. There was quite a lot of intense work on that. It was a bit like reverse-engineering a tasting note for a wine, where you pull out all the flavour and aroma notes one-by-one.
"That wine tasting philosophy was carried throughout the process of making each of the products that Lyre's has released so far."
And the brand believes it has succeeded in its mission to become 'the greatest mimic': winning a double gold for its Aperitif Rosso during the inaugural Sommcon's 2019 Concours d'Spirits competition, making it the only non-alcohol product to be bestowed the honour in a field of traditional alcohol products.
Lyre’s has found success in both the on-trade and off-trade. In on-premise it is working with venues in Sydney such as the harbourfront Opera Bar, rooftop cocktail bar Smoke at Barangaroo, House of Pocket and Gin Lane. It also sells direct to consumers online through liquor supermarket chain Dan Murphy’s, Amazon and its own online shop.
“Lyres is a product designed for the enjoyment of adult tastes,” said Gloster. “We want to be easy to find wherever they typically enjoy a cocktail – at home and at the bar. We’ve got some great on-prem partners who have crafted some really creative drinks and we sell direct to consumers online.
“It’s early days, but the product is working well in the outlets have stocked us and designed drinks to support the range. Our focus is continuing on building belief across the trade by showcasing the range and diversity of the drinks you can make with Lyre’s.”
'We always set out to be a premium product'
With a $45 price tag ($30 USD, $24 GBP) in Australia, Lyre’s is targeting the upper end of the market. How can it justify the price tag – and convince consumers it’s worth the expense?
“We always set out that Lyre’s would be a premium product and we like to think that the meticulously crafted flavours capture the spirit of the traditional alcoholic beverage,” said Gloster.
“The development of each variant has taken years and required extensive development to create the flavour architecture required to make Lyre’s commercially available.
"We provide value to consumers and the trade by being a high-quality alternative option when looking for mindful drinking choices – something much better than a soft drink or Lemon lime and Bitters.
“We are confident that once consumers taste our product, the value and benefits will be clear.”
UK market success
Lyre’s lost no time in reaching the UK market where it launched in May, eager to be part of the low and no alcohol revolution. “The UK market is really leading the development of the trend and Lyre’s is at the forefront of changing the way the world is drinking,” said Gloster.
“We have over 50 outlets across the UK as well as some premium retailers and grocery. The UK market is really leading the development of the trend and Lyre’s is at the forefront of changing the way the world is drinking.”
It is also expanding to the US, New Zealand and Singapore, seeing the relevance of low and no alcohol beverage everywhere it looks.
“We see Lyre’s as being a solution to a universal problem, so the freedom to have your drink your way is something only Lyre’s can provide,” said Gloster. “We would love to change the way the world drinks and practically most traditional mixed drinks or cocktails can be made with Lyre’s and that’s a great freedom of choice to have in every market around the world.”