Captain Morgan Spiced Gold 0.0% – the Science Behind the Liquid

Captain Morgan Spiced Gold 0.0% – the Science Behind the Liquid 

4 Jan 2024
Video Thubnail Cap Morg

In August 2023, Diageo launched Captain Morgan Spiced Gold 0.0%. Having made waves in the industry with a raft of successful non-alcohol NPD, such as Guinness, Tanqueray, and Gordon’s 0.0%, Spiced Gold 0.0% broke new ground as the first dark spirit to join the portfolio.

However, from a development point of view, producing a great tasting non-alcohol dark spirit was a huge challenge, and turned out to be the company’s most complicated non-alcoholic endeavor to date. The burning question that had to be answered: how to develop a non-alcoholic dark spirit that maintains the same characteristics as the original Captain Morgan?

Liquid Scientist Amanda Brown and Sensory & Consumer Scientist Chanchal Narain-Baggott have been leading Diageo’s non-alcoholic Research & Development (R&D) for six years and here they explain the magic and science behind the journey to create Diageo’s first non-alcoholic dark spirit.

When we embarked on this journey, we knew that the place to start was unpacking the brand’s DNA; understanding what makes Captain Morgan “Captain” - and from there go about trying to craft this wonderful non-alcoholic variant.

Any liquid scientist will tell you how important alcohol is for enhancing the flavours within drinks; combining and holding notes together to create a drink that consumers love. We’ve previously overcome this challenge with beer and white spirits, but understanding how to create a great-tasting dark spirit without this incredible holder of flavour was new to us.

One of the unique elements of rum is that there are a lot more mature flavours compared to other spirits, a lot of which are insoluble in water. Two such flavours that are synonymous with the original Spiced Gold are vanilla and spice, both of which are solid at room temperature. With alcohol, these ingredients will dissolve, but the second you remove alcohol these flavours sink.

Our role was to find a way to overcome this, holding the great-tasting flavours of Spiced Gold together but being left with a non-alcoholic variant. We had to test and learn a variety of techniques to work our way out of that problem, but I’m delighted with what has come out.

Amanda Brown
Amanda Brown

Another test was making sure we had a continuous flavour journey with Spiced Gold 0.0%. Alcohol is often the magic ingredient when it comes to holding flavour. So we had to play around with a variety of techniques and layer up the flavours so consumers would get wave upon wave across their palates. What you don’t want is to have a little bit of Captain Morgan before it quickly disappears and becomes watery.

Starting on this brief, Amanda and I knew that we needed to become engrained in this liquid, understanding not just what Captain is but what makes rum, rum. Together, we delved into the entire Captain Morgan range dissecting it to understand what the signature notes we needed to capture within what has become our version of Captain Morgan. It took months of experimenting, testing, finessing, and quite often failing. However, seeing it roll off the production line two years later was an incredibly proud moment. After all the bumps in the road, with all the questions we faced, seeing the positive online reviews and feedback made it all worthwhile.

Chanchal Narain-Baggott