Observant Muslims must not drink alcoholic drinks, these are considered Haram. Are the new breed of non alcoholic spirits allowed under Islamic Law? Is alcohol free gin halal?
As a general rule, alcohol free gins can be Halal. The spirit needs to be 0.0% ABV for the strict Islamic Law to deem it Halal. Many of the major spirit brands, mostly the gins, are launching non alcoholic ranges. Not all non or low alcoholic spirits are 0.0% ABV, meaning it is critical to read the label.
There is much to think about in terms of islamic law and what alcohol may or may not be in a bottle of alcohol free gin before you can decide if it is Halal or not.
Are non alcoholic spirits/gin halal?
The Prophet Muhammad says in the Quran “Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden. He who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the Hereafter.”
This can be a very complex topic with many variations across the Islamic world. In general, any alcoholic drink or drink that can get a person intoxicated is banned or Haram but there is variation in thinking on this.
What is Khamr
One of the arguments in Islamic law is only grape juice and wine Haram or all alcohols.
Khamr is the Arabic word for wine and intoxication. A minority would argue that only wine is Haram due to this word. Indeed some majority Muslim countries produce spirits like aarack. Egypt produces wine.
Even a mouthful
A conservative view would be any amount of an intoxicating liquid is banned, even a mouthful. The phrase “even a drop” is used. Where there may be differing practice is if an alcohol is <0.5% ABV and labelled as “non alcoholic”, can this be Halal?
It’s very difficult to get drunk drinking this strength of alcohol but there is still alcohol in the liquid. The volume of liquid you would need to drink makes it nearly impossible. I know Muslim friends of mine who are happy that this is non alcoholic and that they can drink it.
The stricter approach, and the approach taken for Halal Certification is to only drink a liquid if it is “alcohol free” with an ABV of <0.05%.
For comparison, orange juice would have 0.5% ABV and vinegar 0.2% ABV. All the Halal Certified alcohol free products have and ABV <0.05% and will be labelled as 0.0% ABV.
There is a further consideration which i have came across on the internet, that if you are drinking a non alcoholic equivalent of an alcoholic drink, with others who are drinking alcohol, mimicking them, then this could possibly be considered Haram although that takes the context of the drink a step further.
If you are just in your own home with your own family drinking a 0.0% alcoholic drink then this wouldn’t be haram for the purposes of mimicking.
|ABV %||Likelihood of being considered Halal|
|<1.2% – Low alcohol||Very unlikely to be considered Halal|
|<0.5% – Non alcoholic||Possibly can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Alcohol free||Can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Halal Certified||Should be considered Halal|
If there is no halal certification can you trust that the law states alcohol free and 0.0% ABV means just that and this will be inspected and tested independently? The law allows 0.5% ABV variance in the UK. So a 0.5% gin could be 1%. Could a 0.05% gin be 0.55%?
I think it’s very unlikely with modern brewing and computer techniques. Major gin companies marketing 0.0% drinks would not want the PR of not being this. Indeed most state an AVB that it will not be above. Usually this is around the 0.03% level.
Non alcoholic spirit definitions
|Description on label||Maximum ABV content|
There are various spirit descriptions that you may see and these correspond to differing alcohol by volume content.
Low alcohol spirits have an alcohol by content percentage of 1.2% ABV or below. Dealcoholised spirits are spirits that has went through the fermentation process and then had the alcohol extracted either by vacuum distillation or filtration.
Dealcoholised spirits must not contain more than 0.5% ABV. The term alcohol free can only be used for a spirit where the alcohol has been extracted, as with the dealcoholised, but with a remaining ABV of not more than 0.05%.
This would mean it can display 0.0% ABV on the label or state it contains no alcohol. “Non alcoholic spirit” however is used in common parlance to describe both dealcoholised and alcohol free spirits.
The FDA state “To ensure that consumers are not misled as to the alcohol content of the product, the statement of identity should be followed by the declaration, “contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume.”
FDA considers use of the terms “dealcoholized” and “alcohol-removed” in the statement of identity of a reduced alcohol wine product to be misleading if the alcohol content exceeds 0.5 percent by volume (…)
FDA does not consider the terms “non-alcoholic” and “alcohol-free” to be synonymous. The term “alcohol-free” may be used only when the product contains no detectable alcohol.”
So both USA and UK both state the only terms acceptable for a spirit containing no alcohol and at 0.0% ABV is alcohol free. All other terms may have up to 0.5% ABV and therefore not be Halal. EU law however may allow alcohol free spirits to have up to 0.5% ABV.
Alcohol free vs Non Alcoholic
A popular “non alcoholic” gin is Ceder’s from South Africa. On their bottle they display “Non Alcoholic”.
From our definitions we know this may have just below 0.5% ABV but this isn’t displayed on their bottle (it doesnt have to be).
Looking at their product on their website they state “0 alcohol/ 0 sugar/ 0 calories” so you’d be forgiven for assuming it has 0.0%. Some further digging on their FAQs and you’ll find this is actually 0.48% ABV.
Contrast this with say Gordons Alcohol Free Gin. it displays both the “alcohol free” text you would want but also the 0.0% ABV which is crucial for it to be considered Halal.
Most of the big gin brands are all making 0.0% gins. Gordons has no more than 0.015% ABV
How is alcohol free gin made
Like every alcohol wine/spirit/beer, these products aren’t technically the same as their alcoholic counterparts.
To be classed as a wine/beer/spirit the product needs to have a certain ABV % which all low/non/alcohol free products fall far short of.
However, they are designed to be as close to the original as possible but just with out alcohol.
The low/non alcoholic gins/spirits with an ABV of up to 0.5% are usually made in the same fermentation process as their full alcohol cousins but an additional natural grain spirit (raw alcohol) isn’t added along with the botanical flavourings. This is distilled and diluted with water down to below 0.5% ABV.
Some distill all the alcohol off and others don’t even start with any base alcohol to get the flavours from the botanicals, instead relying on maceration to develop flavour.
Buyer beware as they say. From my research it seems 0.0% alcohol free gin can be considered Halal but if you are in any way in doubt then you should follow your normal processes and discuss it with your local religious leader. There is an argument that even up to 0.5% ABV can be Halal as it can’t get you drunk.
For a full 11 reasons to try non alcoholic gin, follow this link to my article.