Hello Stella, Hello Christian, …
How did you develop Laori? How much time did you need?
We developed Laori in three cycles. Meaning we developed one prototype with three variations. This prototype was then tested with end consumer and a sensorics panel. We gathered feedback from them and used it to develop the next prototype and tested it again. We did this cycle three times and after 9 months, a lot of stability and shelf life tests in the lab we launched Laori Juniper No 1.
Do you have experience in distillation before starting the brand?
I started developing the product in my kitchen and had no experience with distillation before. I just love to cook and guess I know a few techniques. So I started reading a lot about it and watched videos. That way I learned and applied the knowledge with my own experiments. After some time Christian joined me as a co-founder. He is a food scientist and part of his education is to know about different processes of which distillation is one of them. With his knowledge we were able to bring the product development to a new level.
Did you know immediately what you wanted to achieve?
I came up with the idea for Laori when I was at a night out in Berlin. I was at a fancy bar and didn’t want to drink alcohol. I ended up with not so delicious and very sugary mocktails and lemonades. I said to my friend: “I just want to have a Gin & Tonic without the alcohol”. So this was always the goal to get the Gin & Tonic experience just without the alcohol.
Which other nonalcoholic beverages inspired you?
When I came up with the idea for Laori three years ago the range of nonalcoholic beverages available in Germany was very limited. There were few brands from overseas and there was no brand from Germany by that time. The alternatives I tested didn’t taste like Gin and definitely did not give me the Gin & Tonic experience. So I decided to do it myself. The taste I was looking for was not available on the market and we only had examples of how our product should not taste like. So we got our inspiration from alcoholic Gin.
Do you have your own facility?
We do not have our own facilities as there is no need for that. We work with several partners who produce our distillates, help us produce Laori and bottle the product for us.
What is the expertise needed to create a non-alcoholic adult beverage?
I cannot talk about what you need in general but I guess our expertise helped to start Laori. Christian and I are the perfect mix of business expertise and product development skills. I studied Business Administration and worked as a startup coach before. Christian studied Food Science and before starting Laori he developed innovative beverage products with a focus on extracting the most flavor out of natural ingredients. What unites us is our passion for food and drinks with a pretty high standard for taste. We are not willing to make any tradeoffs for taste and good enough is just not good enough. To top it all up you need a lot of resilience to follow through with your idea.
How did you make contact with the distiller in France? Why there?
During product development we sourced raw materials all over Europe to get the best ingredients possible. We were looking for raw materials with exceptional taste, high quality ingredients and everything as close to our location as possible and ideally in organic quality. We tested a lot of products. Some were good and some not so good. We ended up in France because they just had the best product.
Will you publish a complete list of ingredients such as the herbs and spices you use? Why?
Unlike alcohol nonalcoholic beverages need to indicate all their ingredients and the nutritional value on the back of the bottle. This is why you can always see what ingredients we use. All herbs and spices we use are public because it helps you better understand the product and create balanced drinks.
Can you tell me more about the different techniques you use (extraction? maceration? distillation? what types ?) and especially how to you get the juniper flavor?
We experienced that the processes that were used for alcoholic beverages do not lead to the same taste than for nonalcoholic beverages. So we had to rethink the whole process of how to make nonalcoholic spirits and the maximum flavor. So we developed a new processes of how to make Laori. We adapted a processes of the French way of parfum distillation. Each botanical is distilled separately with a steam distillation. This allows us to get the maximum out of the herbs and spices since we can adjust the process to their individual needs. Afterwards we blend all distillates together and then use a secret process to reach the final taste.
How do you respond to the slight milky appearance of Laori?
It is taste you can see.:-) It’s because of the high aroma concentration of Laori No 1.
Do you use alcohol at any point in the process? If yes, which one, and how is the alcohol removed?
We do not use any alcohol in the process.
What kind of water do you use?
We use demineralized tab water from the region of Brandenburg close to Berlin.
Why did you decide to add stevia? How does it help as per the conservation?
Like for every good meal you need salt, acidity and sweetness to balance a dish. We use acidity and sweetness in form of stevia to balance Laori. Stevia does not help for conservation.
What is the main challenge in creating a non-alcoholic adult beverage? I often heard while offering non-alcoholic tastings « so in the end, this is basically flavored water I could do myself in my kitchen, right? » which I of course denied, but I’m curious, is this something you heard too? And if yes, how do you respond to this?
We love the question. It’s a bit like you eat the most delicious fries and say: “it’s just potatoes. Simplicity is still the ultimate form of sophistication and a simple drink or dish is still the best.
As for the juniper tea: we tried that and we can tell you from our experience if you make a juniper berry tea it tastes nothing like Gin. So what’s the reasoning behind that? Alcohol is a solvent and it extracts totally different aromas from the herbs and spices than just using water. So if you take a cup of water and a cup of alcohol, put the same amount of juniper berries in it and wait for 24 hours the result is completely different. This is also called infusion and has nothing to do with distillation. Gin is still only alcohol infused with spices and herbs. Making non-alcoholic alternatives is way more complex than making an alcoholic beverage because we miss a major taste component the alcohol. So yea, nonalcoholic spirits are basically water with herbs and spices that taste incredible but we add more complexity.