Review: Non-alcoholic whiskey-flavored drink

You can find just about anything on the Internet. But is it actually worth consuming?

The product: Arkay, which is supposed to "look and taste exactly like traditional whiskey." Your mileage may vary. I found it to be surprisingly drinkable, despite the fact that it smells terrible. Of course, I'm pregnant. This will be important later.

Tasting notes: On the nose, Arkay has a distinct aroma, reminiscent of the cheapest whiskey you might have purchased through somebody's older sibling at age 18 … with a strong hint of saccharine. There is also a definite peaty note to it, which, looking at the ingredients list, is more disturbing than it is encouraging.

Thankfully, Arkay tastes better than it smells. It would never be confused for a high-end, or even mid-range whiskey. But with the addition of a couple ice cubes (or as a mixer with coke or ginger ale) you could almost believe you were consuming a bottom-shelf alcoholic beverage. The flavor is on the caramel-y/bourbon end of whiskey — confusingly, the scent of peat never shows itself in the taste — and is a bit more sweet than any bourbon I would normally drink.

Why the hell would you drink this?: I sampled Arkay with the help of several friends at a conference last week in Canada. The general consensus was that Arkay probably works best for people who have been denied access to real whiskey for a long enough period of time that they are psychologically prepared to develop some sort of Stockholm Syndrome with Arkay. As a pregnant woman, I fit that profile. In general, I and a couple of other women (who had been pregnant and know what that's like) could imagine ourselves voluntarily drinking this. (As a bonus, the second ingredient, glycerin, is used in various laxative treatments for pregnant women. So, hurrah?) The men who tasted it, on the other hand, uniformly recoiled in horror. A previous interest in actual whiskey is definitely required. It's not the way to introduce anybody to whiskey flavor.

Additional problem: Once I opened the bottle of Arkay, I found that there was no way to close it. The cap, ostensibly a screw-on, did not seem to match up with the screw-on threads of the bottle. That made it awkward to carry the Arkay around and it basically forced me to abandon the majority of the bottle after the tasting, rather than risk spilling it all over myself and having to smell Arkay on my own clothing.

Conclusion: If you're a whiskey drinker who hasn't been able to drink whiskey for 7 months, you might actually prefer this to downing yet another soda. That said, your friends will mock you and the company really needs to work on the packaging.

Arkay: 33.3 fluid ounce bottle — $15. Also available in beer-sized cans, for some reason.