Botaniets, Brussels gin with 0.0% alcohol: 5 things to know and 3 mocktail ideas for your Mineral Tour (videos)
An athlete’s disappointment
“I was doing amateur sports, running long distances and trying to reduce my consumption. And not to stop.” But the offer of non-alcoholic drinks in 2018 does not convince Alexander Haube. “Non-alcoholic craft beer was in its infancy at the time. The wine is not terrible. Non-alcoholic alcohol, let’s not talk about it.
A family story
“My great-grandfather, George Niets, studied botany. We found his notebooks. And his researches on the methods of distillation.’ It is this starting point that sets Alexandre Hauben on the path to perfect alcohol-free gin.
A resident of Brussels takes a look at the proceedings. “I wanted to distill a product without alcohol, to combine two plants to find a third flavor like my ancestors. I knew it had to work. But I oppose the power of the world of alcohol.” No Belgian actor wants to start with him. The entrepreneur is not a tender. “Belgian distilleries are making fun of me. They don’t want to hear anything.”
Alexandre Hauben finds peace with his Dutch neighbors. “Two distillers aged 79 and 88 help me turn my theory into a finished product.” We are in 2019. “After a lot of work and a lot of passion, we finally found the recipe.”
Secret: triple distillation
Nietzsche’s process is based on traditional principles. “This is real gin: we start with a 5-hour distillation. The result is a well-structured alcohol. Then a second distillation of 24 hours allows the alcohol to be removed. We work at different levels, in sequence between 35 and 80 degrees. There is no question of using filters or chemicals like others. We get a highly condensed product, a reduction of gin to its simplest expression. Not drinkable. The 3rd distillation consists of diluting this liquid with water. It is kept at a constant temperature for 5 days. A delicate process. “We use a dilution apparatus. Enhances fragrances without losing them. There are only two in Europe. One is with us.”
We are the only ones in the world to achieve a 0.001% alcohol level without selling a blend, tea or infusion like many others.
The bottom line: “We are the only one in the world that achieves 0.001% alcohol without mixing, tea or brewing like many others. So you win awards in London, Paris or Hong Kong.” Stronger: “We won a medal in New York competing with alcoholic demons.”
Truly Alcohol Free
Alexandre Hauben does not mince words. “The European legislation is quite permissive. For him, 0.5% beer or alcohol is non-alcoholic. I find it absurd. And it can be harmful to diabetics, pregnant women, people with ethanol intolerance, elite athletes…”
On the strength of this observation, a Brussels resident would form a Belgian association to defend 0.0% drinks. “We will be 8 producer and consumer rights protection association. We are not speaking against the alcohol lobby, but against the non-alcohol lobby.”
Good luck and great potential
Niets was founded in February 2020. At the time, Europe knew little or nothing about the pandemic that was about to hit. Plugs have just been inserted into the first bottles. “I conducted a survey among Brussels chefs. The return is that it tastes like gin. After a week I had everything. So I start my box.” But covid is here in March. Alexandre Hauben fires under his shots.
“When it reopens, it starts well again.” In January 2023, Botaniets sold its 100,000th bottle. The gin is available in a classic version and a variant with ginger and yuzu. “It is impossible to predict such a success. I created 10 jobs. And non-alcoholic is a sector with phenomenal development.” In 2021, Wagralim estimated it at 80% based on British figures. According to the Walloon agro-food expert, non-alcoholic beer already accounts for 4% of the Belgian market.
In addition to the distribution of 0.0% French white and rosé sparkling wine (French Bloom), Niets also develops rum (Havaniets), Italian aperitif and whiskey. “We have many requests: the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, North Africa, but also Iceland and other European countries,” says Alexandre Hauben. To help this development, the founder raised 1.2 million euros, half of which was provided by regional investor finance.brussels. “And I would like to solve the problems of wine and non-alcoholic beer.”
Non-alcoholic cocktail ideas
Take advantage of Botaniets ambassador Boupinh Lam’s expertise: break out your wines and make the perfect non-alcoholic cocktails (or “mocktails”) to get your Mineral Tour off to a good start. The Brussels mixologist offers you the “sour” (creamy on top with bergamot, lemon juice, egg white), the French 75 (sparkling with bergamot and without alcohol) and the Perfect service (or “gintoniets”). gin and tonic). Health!