Food & drink

Teenager creates alcohol-free gin

Hana Hughes pictured with a bottle of her ‘Driver’s Gin’  

A CO Down teenager has created Northern Ireland's first alcohol-free gin.

Hana Hughes, a 16-year-old from Dromore, came up with the idea for the sugar and calorie-free 'Driver's Gin' after reading a list of options for learning a new skill as part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme.

"I was initially surprised to see brewing and wine making as suggestions," she said. 

"I knew the resources available to me at my parent’s distillery were unique and I set myself a challenge to learn how to distil a non-alcoholic gin."

Hana created the gin at her family's craft distillery in Moira, Co Down. The drink is sugar and calorie free.

She said: "I came up with two recipes, my first was very similar to a classic gin recipe but the second was my own recipe of botanicals, strong juniper, coriander, black peppercorns, cubeb’s and sweet orange. 

"When I had finished distilling the recipes I measured the alcohol and they were both 0%ABV. I had to ask for help from people who like the taste of gin and I was relieved and really happy when they said my recipe tasted great.” 

Hana pictured with her mum Barbara and dad Stuart 

Hana's drink has been so well-received that it has been made available in her family's gastropub in Moira.

Her mother Barbara said: “Hana is a very focused young lady who pays so much care and attention to all of her school studies. When she takes on a new project or hobby she gives it 100 per cent commitment and she has taken on the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards with such enthusiasm." 

"When Hana suggested making a gin drink, we initially weren't sure given the need to be socially responsible around alcohol. But when Hana told us the drink would be alcohol-free, we thought how much more socially responsible could it be than to provide this as an alternative."

Barbara said Hana had set herself the challenge of making her drink taste like a regular alcoholic gin.

"The most exciting part for her has been giving it to bartenders who have tried it and told her it tastes just like gin and tonic," she said.

"She knew the challenge would be to recreate the 'burn' of alcohol and she has actually been very clever with the ingredients she used.

"Hana’s ‘Driver’s Gin’ really is a special drink and we are very proud of her."

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