As the interest in low and no alcohol trend increase, the level of sophistication of the brands in the space has also increased.
One such brand is Fluere, a non-alcoholic spirit made with the same distilling techniques used by perfume houses to create their high-end scents.
We talk to CEO of Fluere, Léon Meijers, about the importance of mindful drinking, the medicinal properties of botanicals and, of course, the cocktails you can make with a non-alcoholic spirit.
As the interest in low and no alcohol trend increase, the level of sophistication of the brands in the space has also increased. One such brand is Fluere, a non-alcoholic spirit made with the same distilling techniques used by perfume houses to create their high-end scents. We talk to CEO of Fluere, Leon Meijers, about the importance of mindful drinking, the medicinal properties of botanicals and, of course, the cocktails you can make with a non-alcoholic spirit.
Thank you for joining us, Leon.
Yeah. Thank you for asking me.
Now, let's talk about Fluere, how it started and why.
Yeah. It was a couple of years ago we recognized the trend of the millennials spending more but drinking less, and so from a personal perspective, the health benefits of not drinking any alcohol. Already in the business we thought let's develop a non-alcoholic spirit which in our belief outperforms on the liquids. We believe that Fluere is the only non-alcoholic spirit around with a bite, that comes the closest to an alcoholic experience without the alcohol.
Now, where did the name come from?
The name is from the ancient Roman Empire where Fluere means flow, flow like in a state of mind, but also the flow of a river like the design you see in the bottle.
Okay and how did you go about preparing?
The liquids we currently have?
As I just mentioned, we were intrigued by the Roman Empire. When you look into the Roman history of the soldiers conquering the world, you see that they use botanicals to feel more fit, or to cure pains or heal, let's say... Or to fight with viruses in the body they use juniper, or they use coriander, that are also the main ingredients now we have used in our original liquids. By coincidence the juniper and the lime are a flavor profile that fits into the testing profile of a lot of millennials. It's fresh. It's nosey. As I said before, it has the bite which comes closest to an alcoholic experience. It's also a great liquid by the use of those botanicals to have a non-alcoholic long drink, let's say Fluere and tonic, which is very popular with the alcoholic version as a gin and tonic.
Now your story is quite intertwined with the medicinal properties of your botanicals as well, isn't it?
Yeah, it is. It is. And that's what I was explaining just a minute ago, it's the healing aspects of the botanicals. The juniper, for instance, the coriander, the lavender which reflects all about what the soldiers of the Romans used in the old days when conquering the world. And so in the end we think it is a beautiful concept which reflects the old days but with a new perspective fitting into the millennials as we see them today.
Can you run through what medicinal properties of some of these botanicals are?
Yeah, it's so... The juniper, for instance, is for the bladder, when you have a pain at your bladder you can use juniper to heal your problem. Lime peel, for instance, was used to heal your joints. So all these botanicals we have used for Fluere have all individually their own health benefits. So our main botanicals in the liquid are the juniper, the lime peel, the coriander and the lavender. Those four botanicals are the four we have used for our original liquids. The testing terpenes of both the juniper and the lime peel are the most important ingredients we have in the liquid that underlines the character of the palate. The coriander was used when your muscles were hurt or injured during the fights. They were treated afterwards by coriander to heal and to become less painful. The lavender we have used not because of any healing functions that can be claimed, but just for complimenting the palate as we believe was needed, or to create the liquid.
You talk about Fluere having a quite unique after bite, similar to... that's found in alcohol. How is that achieved?
That's achieved with distillation of the juniper and the lime peel. There are some testing terpenes released and because we have not filtered the liquid, the testing terpenes are still in the liquid. They predominantly create the alcoholic experience. So it's predominantly the juniper and the lime peel responsible for the alcoholic experience, when tasting the liquid.
Now, you talked about distillation. From what I understand you use hydro steam distillation as your process?
Yes. Correct. Yeah, the hydro steam distillation process is quite a sophisticated process, distilling process. It's mainly used by perfume houses to create really the essence of a product. The way, or how hydro steam distillation works is that you macerate the botanicals like you do with the traditional pot still distillation process, but what we do is we capture the steam. The botanicals are macerated on alcohol, the liquid is heated, the steam is captured, is cooled down so creating the liquid as well. In that liquid we split the water from the oils in the last column of the steam distillation. The essential oils is the liquid we use to create our product.
You talked about it being a technique that's often used by perfume houses. They're, of course, doing it for the smell, you're doing it for the taste. So how does it differ
So the final products are essential oils. And the essential oils are used by the perfume house to create the perfumes. We use the essential oils to create our liquid. The only difference in the end product is that perfume houses do not dilute their essential oils they create and we do, otherwise they are much too powerful for your palate.
You were talking earlier about consumers looking towards no or low alcohol and being somewhat more mindful about ingredients. How important do you really think that is at the moment?
Very important. We see that consumers are drinking less but spending more. I was using high quality ingredients, organic ingredients, to not per se needs to be more expensive but I think by combining the two aspects together, by doing that, we are hitting all the sweet spots with the developments we currently see in all the category. The original liquids we use... We use high quality organic ingredients and the palate is appealing to a large group of consumers. With the pink flavor we just have just launched, we use distillate of fresh raspberries. Fresh raspberries are more tasty and you're able to create a more sophisticated product with fresh products than using an industry aroma. The use of ingredients, the no and low developments that are there, there's an increasing demand, people are more conscious about their health, about their wellbeing. It's also not about that, it's also to be sharp, not feeling to have any alcohol because of a religious reason, you're a designated driver today, pregnant woman. It goes beyond that, it's because also women that are breastfeeding the baby. So there's a large movement which is demanding more and more sophisticated drinks containing no alcohol than what we have seen before.
Do you think it's just a momentary trend, or do you think it's a whole societal change that will be long lasting?
Yeah, I think it's definite change in how we consume, or how people consume, and what they consume. As we see, people are fed up with every alcoholic drinks, sugary drinks, sugary, flat, not very tasty mocktails which we have seen over the past decades. There's a trend which is here to stay with a demand of an adult solution for a non-alcoholic drink. And you want to socialize with your colleagues, you want to socialize with your friends, you want to go out, you want to be part of it, you want to be in the flow and in the know, but not want to consume any alcohol because it's not good for your body, you're not sharp, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So it's for sure is a new category in the meantime and we have some professional colleagues which are joining in the journey we all have together. So there is a category, there are some price points, different liquids to please a large group of consumers. So it's definitely here to stay and growing because everybody knows that alcohol is not good for your body.
Fluere comes in three expressions; the Original, the Pink and the Amber If we could run through each of those. Let's start with the Original, how would you describe flavor of that?
As a straight forward juniper, citrus palate, fresh on the nose, a bite, which we described before, that comes close to an alcoholic experience.
Okay. So would you say it's almost a gin replacement or... ?
I'd rather would like to avoid the word gin. But as an easy explanation my answer is yes. It's a non-alcoholic gin. It's not what we intended to create upfront. It's just what we created down the line. We try to listen to consumers, what they prefer and what they like to drink, or what they prefer to have of a palate and it's more like a coincidence we created a non-alcoholic gin. But I hate to use that word.
When you said it wasn't what you had originally set out to create, what do you mean by that?
No, what I mean is that we were not trying to create a non-alcoholic gin. But the palate we created with the botanicals we used, by coincidence, is. So it's more a coincidence than it was something we decided up front to create.
With Pink, you were earlier saying that it has the raspberries in it, so it has very much the flavor of raspberry?
Yeah, it's really raspberry on the nose. Very fresh, very sweet but subtle, and a great liquid which also as the... Let's say, the basic ingredients from the original and we added the distillate of the fresh raspberries. And of course the original botanicals are not in the same measurements. We worked a little bit with the measurements of the botanicals. But, again, it's a great liquid and it's very sophisticated in a drink. The liquid itself is also pink which looks very appealing.
In the same way I assume as the pink gins are taking the world by storm at the moment.
Correct. That's tremendous growth in that sub-category in the overall category. Correct. Yeah, it's really taking the market by storm. I think we're very proud that we would say that we are world's first non-alcoholic pink spirit.
Now, if we look at the last one, which is the Amber, that's quite different from the other two. Can you talk a little bit more about it and its flavor?
Yeah, so the official description of the product is spiced cane dark roast. So it's more a seductive liquid. Main ingredients we use is sugar cane molasses which is also used in traditional rums with alcohol. We have used some roasted coffee, some cacao, some Tonka beans, toffee to make it a little bit sweet. It's a seductive drink. It's a drink you can also have on its own, so neat over ice if you prefer. It's an awesome base liquid to make an old fashioned or a non-alcoholic long drink with Coke for instance. With Coke, it's a delicious drink. Also hitting a sweet spot of a growing category worldwide.
Yeah, with the similarity to rum, yes.
Now if someone were to buy the Amber, for example, for the first time, would you recommend that they did taste it straight or put it in a cocktail for their first experience?
I think what I can say for all three liquids is try them all on their own because just... Also with an alcohol containing spirit, try it on its own, have it neat. Let it play with your senses and with your palate. Enjoy the palate and try to recognize the botanicals which are used because what counts for our non-alcoholic spirits is the same for alcohol spirit, you can make or breaka a spirit with all the tonic you use, all the other ingredients you use to make a cocktail. So try them on their own. Try them on their own. Reset, in our particular case, a non-alcohol spirit, reset your brain because they do not contain alcohol, so reset, enjoy, be surprised and then decide yourself what your thoughts are. We believe, and I said it a couple of times before now in this interview, we believe that our liquids come the closest to an alcohol experience.
Keeping with the Amber, what other flavours do you think work really well with that particular expression?
To make a cocktail you mean?
Our signature serve is an old fashioned, a non-alcohol old fashioned. So just add a little bit of sugar syrup, garnish with some chocolate bitters and garnish with an orange peel. You'll have an awesome drink. As I said a minute ago, a combination with Coke you have an exciting long drink as well. Really you will be surprised with the taste of it compared to what you're most probably are used with another liquid with Coke. It's amazing, the notes, the taste and it's containing no alcohol.
So it's really taking on, and working well with flavors that you would traditionally with put a darker rum.
Could that be said for the Original and the Pink? That they would also work very well with flavours... the Original with flavors you'd put with gin, for example, and the Pink with flavors you'd put with a pink gin maybe.
Yeah. Yeah. For instance, we have a signature serve with the Original which is the non-alcohol Gimlet, which is an awesome drink and it's quite easy to make. It is Fluere Original with lime cordial-
Which I imagine would bring out the lime in the Fluere as well.
... which is amazing drink. Really sophisticated. But Raspberry Collins with the Pink is an amazing drink as well. A basil smash with the Original, an awesome drink. You will really be surprised when you compare it to the alcohol version. It's maybe more delicious than the alcohol version.
The brand's been out for a little while now. What has the reaction to the expressions been from... Let's start with bartenders?
Bartenders in the beginning are what we see as skeptical to all non-alcoholics at the moment because non-alcoholic brands are entering the market by storm. There are a lot liquids out there that could need some more attention, quality wise. So bartenders have been approached by a lot of brands and are therefore, at this point of time, a little bit...They're conscious but once they tried Fluere, one we explained how Fluere is made, what you can make with it, once they tried it on its own, once we made a few cocktails for them, I think I can say that everybody is very enthusiastic about Fluere. I think every bartender, bar owner, restaurant owner, with a hospitality approach should have Fluere on their menu, in their restaurant for sure, because you need to improve your level of hospitality to your consumers to grow your business. To be top of mind with your consumers, you need to offer a growing choice of non-alcohol drinks. It's not about the bartender but about consumers. The demand is there so as an owner of a business, and it doesn't matter which business, but to improve your level of hospitality you should list, or you should stock a decent range of non-alcohol spirits.
I think by choosing Fluere, you're hitting all sweet spots. We have a desirable bottle. We have some great liquids but the liquids we offer, they differs a lot from each other. So the Original one which is outspoken juniper and citrus, one sweet on the nose with distilled raspberries and a seductive, mysterious round spirit made out of sugar cane molasses. You can hit every demand of your consumer with just one brand.
On the other side of that, how easy has it been to communicate about the brand with consumers?
I think that's an ongoing challenge. We communicate with consumers on social media. We communicate with consumers by having feet on the street. By having feet on the street I mean that we work closely with our distributors and they have their sales team, both on and off trade, that are in the fields bringing liquids to lips, doing tasting sections, we give workshops. That's continuously trying to find more ways, other ways to communicate with consumers.
You were mentioning the bottles earlier. Can you talk to us about how those designs came about because they're really quite stunning looking bottles.
Yeah, the design is... It all comes down to the concept with the heritage of the Roman Empire and Fluere meaning flow. The flow of the river is what we have tried to show in the design of the bottle.
The swirl you see, the lines are like the river that's flowing continuously.
In the spirit of aperitif hour, what sort of food would you recommend that people should serve with each of the different Fluere expressions?
Yeah, it's great with the original one, or the pink, because I think they are quite the same in... top level and big lines, some Olives, I think it’s great to have some fresh... Some sushi is really great to accomplish the experience with the liquids. For the brown, the spice cane dark roast, a mix of roasted nuts it's really delicious to accomplish, or you can go many ways with it, you can go many ways.
Tell us something that people may not know or realize about the Fluere range.
I think that what is very important to understand for everybody, it's not only for consumers for the trade as well, is that we do not extract the alcohol afterwards. As everybody should know is that the distillation process can only be done with alcohol, so we have used alcohol and it's not extracted afterwards. It's diluted, so to say, so I think that's very important thing to realize, to know and to understand. And by knowing that I think that you will recognize the palate much more as being a true distilled spirit but with no alcohol in the end, in the final product.
We have a global approach so we are hitting the markets everywhere where we can have an agreement with a solid partner.
All right, look, thank you so much for joining us this evening, Leon.
No problem at all. Thank you for asking.
And if people want any more information they can of course go to your website?
Yep. More than happy. On the website we have a broad range of cocktails which you can make with all our liquids. It goes also more in detail if you're interested, visit the frequently asked questions section where we try to answer all your questions about the liquid, how we do it, why we do it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It gives you really good insight in the brand itself so please visit www.flueredrink.com.
Excellent. All right. Thank you so much then, Leon.
Thank you for having me today