For years, the low- and no-alcohol drinks sector basically meant 0% beer but this is now transforming, with established brands and new entrants seeking to expand the market with a variety of offerings.
This expansion is due to consumers seeking more choice in drinks beyond the basic ‘alcohol’ or ‘soft drink’ which previously existed. Whether it’s for health, or practical (designated driver etc) reasons, having a drink option other than ‘just a coke, please’ is a welcome choice.
Mary is a recent entrant to this market, from London-based start-up Illogical Drinks. Although it is Illogical Drinks first product; co-founder and Managing Director, Eric Sampers was previously Global Brand Director for Plymouth and Beefeater Gin at Pernod Ricard, it’s fair to say he knows the market well.
A world first for the sector, Mary is described as a “low calorie, lower alcohol botanical blend made with responsibly sourced garden herbs”.
It’s designed to mix with tonic water, and the target market is consumers who still want to drink, but also moderate their alcohol and calorie intake.
At only 6% abv and 9 calories per 25ml serving, you would need to drink six Mary & Tonics to equal one Gin and Tonic. There is also a strong health angle, with Mary containing natural ingredients in addition to being sugar-free, carb-free and vegan.
The name ‘Mary’ was simply an alternative to the scores of male-titled drinks brands (Jack, Johnnie, William etc) so emphasises that this is something different.
We tried Mary with Schweppes Indian Tonic Water (1:3 ratio) over ice with a wedge of lime.
First impressions were very good, it’s got a lovely fresh citrus-leaning herbal nose with a hint of pine. On drinking, the initial taste is citrus at first but quickly changes to a more bitter, herbal note with sage being detected.
The finish is dry and herbal and offers far more complexity than simply drinking tonic with ice.
I’m not sure you’d mistake it for a G&T in a blind test, but that would be to miss the point. It’s a legitimate, lighter alternative to a spirit & mixer and it is this increased consumer choice which will make things much more interesting in the bar and home market.
Mary is now available online at www.drink-mary.com now with a retail price of £23.90 for a 70cl bottle. Thanks to Eric Sampers for sending us a sample bottle for this review and I look forward to it appearing in bars soon.