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ArKay: The 'World's First' Alcohol-Free Whisky Smells Like 'Shoe Cleaner,' Tastes Like 'Horse Saddle'


First Posted: 01/05/12 12:22 PM ET Updated: 01/05/12 03:04 PM ET

Sure, writing about food all day may sound glamorous, but sometimes this job is hard, people. For example, when we taste ArKay, the world's first alcohol-free whisky, according to its website. First of all, the reasons for this beverage sort of make sense: due to religious or dietary restrictions, not everyone can consume alcohol. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to at least simulate the taste experience. "We want everyone to know that ArKay is beverage that they can enjoy," stated Zeshan Ahmed, Vice President for ArKay Beverages, in a press release. "Our product conforms to strict Halal standards and the fact that it contains no alcohol whatsoever, is just one way that we let the consumer know we are respectful of their needs and beliefs."

However, this taste experience doesn't come close to mimicking what actual whisky tastes like. Our eight intrepid tasters were unanimous in that this alcohol-free whisky tastes, well, pretty awful. The smell alone was reminiscent of "shoe cleaner" and was "horribly offensive, similar to that of a litter box." The taste made one taster "want to puke." Another said, "This tastes like I'm licking a horse saddle -- I can't tell if it tastes like leather or shoe polish."

The ingredients are: water, glycerol, natural and artificial flavors, lactic acid, caramel color, potassium sorbate, aspartame and acesulfame.

If you love the taste of whisky but can't drink it, we recommend that you abstain rather than trying this replica made from artificial and natural flavors. Sometimes, there's just no substitute for the real thing.

UPDATE: Commenter drinkslover points out evidence of another (presumably short-lived) alcohol-free whisky, introduced before Arkay, in 2009.

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Filed by Carey Polis  |  Report Corrections