Lyre’s American Malt Review
Our Lyre’s American Malt review by Alex Harris shows that there is more to a drink than its alcohol content – read on to see if this is a real alternative to Whisky.
There is just something about sipping on a whisky, isn’t there? Maybe it is the frustrated writer in me, but I have this romanticised image of sitting on a leather chair in front of a roaring fire in a remote village somewhere – the driving rain pounding against the windows, but with a whisky in hand nothing seems to matter. It warms you from within.
Up until recently, this sort of image wasn’t feasible for people that didn’t want to drink alcohol – there simply weren’t any options when it came to non alcoholic whisky. That’s all changed now, of course, and there are countless options available now. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to keep on top of which ones are the best.
Don’t worry, though, as we are here to help. We go to painstaking lengths to ensure that we try and review the best products available on the non alcoholic market in an effort to ensure that you get the ones that you will love the most.
Today we are looking at a classic in our Lyre’s American Malt review.
Before we get into the drink itself, let’s just take a moment to get to know the people behind it. They were founded in London in July 2019 by Australian entrepreneurs Mark Livings and Carl Hartmann. Their goal was to provide people with an alternative tipple for people that didn’t want to drink alcohol, but still wanted to experience wonderful drinks and flavours, and all the enjoyment and excitement that comes with the drinks scene.
Their rise has been as widespread as it has been explosive. In such a short amount of time, they have won countless awards (including 10 at the London International Spirits Competition and 11 at the 2020 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge) and their drinks are now available all over the world. They make their drinks in Leicestershire, Melbourne and Montreal and have offices in London, Sydney, California, New York and Shanghai. Just to remind you – they were founded in 2019.
They have certainly dived head-first into the burgeoning alcohol free market, and seem to be reaping the rewards. They have set out to ‘pay homage’ to classic alcoholic drinks, but while creating opportunities for people to choose not to drink. They care about people having a good time, free of restrictions.
They claim to have the “finest range of non-alcoholic classic spirits the world has ever seen”. Well, we’ll be the judge of that!
Lyre’s American Malt Ingredients
Right, now that we’ve got to know them a little bit, let’s have a look at the drink itself. As well as being non alcoholic, this is a dairy free, nut free, egg free, gluten free drink that is also vegan friendly. With just 11 Kcal per 100ml, it is also great no matter what diet you might be on. While their drinks are not technically sugar free, they only use natural sugars to recreate the flavours of the classic spirits.
A quick word on alcohol content here – their range is classed, and marketed, as ‘non alcoholic’. The lines here are quite blurred, so to be clear – all of their products have between 0.2% – 0.3% ABV. Now, that isn’t technically non-alcoholic, but it is often classed as so. The classic comparison is that an overripe banana can contain 0.5% alcohol, so while there may be traces of alcohol in Lyre’s drinks, it is effectively negligible. You will also never get drunk on a drink with this level of trace alcohol.
They claim to “source the finest all natural essences, extracts and distillates from the four corners of the globe”, and with the number of offices that they have dotted about all over the world, you can believe that they would be well placed to achieve this.
The ingredients in full: Water, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Natural Flavouring, Acidity Regulator (Phosphoric Acid), Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Stabiliser: Cellulose Gum (E466), Steviol Glycosides.
Lyre’s American Malt Taste
Okay, time to crack open this bottle and see what we’re dealing with here. ‘See’ might be an odd verb to use here, but I think it is important to note what the drink looks like – after all, drinks like this aren’t just about the taste, but about the whole experience.
Well, from just looking at the bottle of American Malt, you get the sense that you are in safe hands. It has a classic, American look – the subtle copper image of a bear with a couple of guns, the classic font and bold lettering – it is a classy, stylish look befitting any ‘traditional’ whisky. The liquid itself is caramel in colour, so it does have the look of a classic bourbon in that respect as well.
So it’s got the look, what else? Well, the next thing that hits you as soon as you open the bottle is the smell. I mentioned above about the American theme of the bottle, and that is continued here – a classic bourbon-esque smell (caramel and vanilla, with a faint oakiness to it). It is light and floral, but still carries a very crisp and distinct smell.
So to the taste – I always try a drink on its own before I try it with any mixers, so I had it with a couple of cubes of ice. Now, everything that I have described so far is building up to this drink being like a bourbon. So it was quite a surprise to have that first sip and report that it did not really taste much like a bourbon at all.
Don’t get me wrong here, this is not to say that it is not a pleasant drink – it really is – but the whole ‘experience’ leading up to that point led me to believe that I was about to taste a bourbon, and I didn’t. What I got instead was a nutty tasting drink, with hints of vanilla, and light pops of floral and herbal notes. The aftertaste was sweet and oaky, and very smooth. It was incredibly easy to drink, and it was not long at all until I was picking up the bottle to pour myself another.
How Best To Drink Lyre’s American Malt
Was I doing it right though? I mean, I think tasting a drink neat is the only way that you can truly review a product, so I think it was the right thing for this piece, but is this the way that Lyre’s American Malt was intended to be drunk?
According to their website – no. In the ‘How To Enjoy’ section, they recommend “with your favourite premium mixer such as cola”. Now, I am a man that has always been somewhat reluctant to use whisky/bourbon with just a mixer – I have long felt that you are missing out on the real flavour when you do this, but I am always thorough with my reviews, so I gave it a go with ‘cola’. I have to say, it really worked well. Somehow, the vanilla on the nose worked so much better with the mixer, and it was so much more apparent than when I drank it alone. The drink was so refreshing, yet still felt a little more exciting and, dare I say it, fancy.
This is their only recommendation, though – “A natural for classic cocktails including the Old Fashioned or an excellent Boulevardier with Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso and Lyre’s Italian Orange.” This really piqued my interest…
Lyre’s American Malt Cocktail Suggestion
Lyre’s helpfully provide pages and pages of cocktail recipes on their website, so I went straight for the Old Fashioned recipe:
Ingredients: 60mL Lyre’s American Malt, 5mL white sugar syrup (1:1), 2 dashes aromatic bitters
Method: Stir briefly over fresh ice
It didn’t disappoint. The American Malt complimented the other ingredients perfectly, and it made for a really unique flavour. Not like a traditional Old Fashioned, but great in its own way. I would heartily recommend you give this a try.
This is a great alternative to bourbon. The ‘alternative’ is key here, as many people might be expecting a replacement for bourbon, and this isn’t it. Even from the way the drink is created (there is no distillation in the production of Lyre’s American Malt), there is no attempt being made to make a drink a bit like bourbon – they are making their own drink here and it needs to be viewed as such.
With that in mind, I think it is great. The flavour was just about deep enough to drink it alone, but it really comes to life when you mix it. When mixed with cola, the soft delicate flavours spring out at you; it’s like drinking a completely different drink.
It is when used with cocktails, however, that you really get the best of this product. The Old Fashioned was great, and the few others I tried were really nice examples of what can be done with non alcoholic spirits.
My advice is to get a bottle of this and try as many different cocktails as possible – I am certain that you will find your new favourite.