Hard seltzers - a boozy version of sparkling water - are having a bit of a “moment” in the UK. Their appeal is down to a combination of factors: they are low-calorie, generally contain just natural, fruity flavours, they’re often cheaper than beer and they have a lower alcohol content too.
Seltzers “aren’t claiming to be the most flavoursome, characterful drinks out there”, The Independent says, “but if you’re looking for a lighter pre-mixed option – or you simply don’t enjoy boozy-tasting drinks – then there’s a wide array of tasty flavour choices”.
After experiencing a meteoric rise in popularity in the US over the past couple of years (sales of hard seltzers grew by 200% between 2019 and 2020, Vox reports) drinks companies this side of the pond are now jumping on board the seltzer bandwagon.
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Big-name UK booze brands, such as BrewDog, have diversified their offering to include hard seltzers, but the industry is still dominated by indie drink start-ups. Below is our round-up of the best hard seltzers available in the UK, with flavours ranging from crushed black cherry to sweet melon and mint.
1. Long Shot
Using all-natural fruit juices and a neutral grain spirit, Long Shot drinks are all less than 70 calories and come in three flavours: grapefruit, strawberry & rhubarb, and raspberry & blackcurrant (which recently picked up World’s Best Hard Seltzer at the World Premix Awards 2021).
SENTZ’s founders say their British hard seltzer is “for people who want to live life in full colour without the guilt”. These sparking drinks are 92 calories per can and feature added minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium). SENTZ drinks are made in Britain and crafted using Scottish raspberries, Brazilian oranges and sparkling water which is filtered through the Oolitic limestone of the Cotswold Hills. Flavours include sweet melon & mint, tangy raspberry & lime, and spiced orange & ginger.
3. Lilo Hard Seltzer
Lilo’s new hard seltzer brand combines Scottish water and botanical spirits (distilled by an award-winning distiller) with natural ingredients, with flavours including white grape & elderflower and cranberry & rosehip. Since its launch earlier this year, Lilo Hard Seltzer has already picked up two awards for taste and is the only hard seltzer to be stocked in Harrods. The slim, eye-catching cans are designed by British artist Maria Rivans, who is known for her mash-up of surrealism meets pop-art aesthetic.
4. Naughty Water
Naughty Water contains vodka which has been distilled seven times, as well as only natural fruit ingredients with added vitamin C. The canned cocktails, which contain zero sugar and are just 72 calories each, are available in three flavours: sparkling cranberry, mango & passionfruit and blood orange.
Described as “a classic vodka soda staple”, &SODA mixes triple-distilled vodka with soda water and natural fruity flavours including lime, raspberry and orange. Each can is just 92 calories, vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free (but definitely not flavour-free).
6. Lot 42
Lot 42 hard seltzers take inspiration from the heritage of its founders and are named after a township on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The two flavours use ingredients which are indigenous to the island: blueberry & lemongrass and huckleberry & ginger, with others to follow later this year. The cans are designed with sustainability in mind; they’re plastic-free and printed with less ink to improve recyclability.
SERVED combines a four-time distilled gluten-free spirit with sparkling water sprung from rural Staffordshire. The liquid is then infused with wonky, sustainably sourced raspberries grown in Scotland and Tahiti limes from the Catanduva region of Brazil which would otherwise have gone to waste.
8. High Water
High Water is made in the UK using triple-distilled vodka, Cotswolds spring water and natural flavours including lemon & elderflower, cucumber & mint, and mango & peach. One per cent of all High Water profits are donated to Just One Ocean, a UK-registered marine conservation charity dedicated to protecting the oceans for future generations.
Berczy is just 75 calories a can and “so fresh-tasting and light that you can enjoy a can on a hot summer’s day whilst you work or pack one in your picnic as a little treat”, say its founders. Flavours include lemon & lime, fruity peach & raspberry, and tropical passionfruit & turmeric.
10. TAKE FIVE
US brand TAKE FIVE (the name coming from our need to take time out of our busy lives) launched its hard seltzers in the UK in June. Made only using natural ingredients these drinks are 85 calories a can and, in the brand’s own words, “crafted ‘conscience clear’”. Flavours include cherry, cranberry & raspberry, lemon & lime, and mango.
11. Gin1 Seltzer
Crafted without artificial flavours or colours, the Gin1 Seltzer is sugar-free and just 58 calories a can. So far there’s just one Gin1 flavour, a combination of the premium Declaration Dry Gin with sparkling water and a twist of orange. Gin1 is an award-winning hard seltzer; it recently won a silver medal in The Spirits Business Hard Seltzer Category for taste.
12. Clean & Press
Clean & Press hard seltzers are the first of their kind made by BrewDog, the multinational brewery and pub chain. These drinks are made using single malt Rogue Wave vodka distilled at The BrewDog Distillery in Aberdeen, Scottish sparkling water and all-natural fruit flavours including cactus & lime, crushed black cherry, and white peach & mango.
13. Whisp Drinks
A new kid on the hard seltzer block, Whisp Drinks are 100% vegan, gluten-free and infused with fruity flavours including cucumber & mint and raspberry & elderflower. The drinks are served in pretty pastel cans that are completely recyclable.
These vodka-based seltzers are 89 calories per can and made with real fruit, with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Flavours include grapefruit and rhubarb, the latter of which The Independent voted Best Overall Seltzer in 2021. The drink has a “true-to-life rhubarb taste”, said the news site. “There’s also a slightly creamy finish, a big mouthfeel without it feeling cloying, and overall, a crisp cleanness to it.”
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