Islamic law forbids the use of alcohol — and that means about a quarter of the world’s population cannot enjoy the taste of whisky. At least not until now.
Enter ArKay — the world’s first alcohol-free whisky-flavored beverage that has been halal-certified (halal signifies the substance in permissible under Islamic law).
The brand came about when a group of friends were drinking and sharing ideas, according to Zeshan Ahmed, VP of Sales for Arkay Beverages. “They felt there was a hole in the beverage market that needed to be filled with something like this,” Ahmed told brandchannel. “They were looking for a flavor that would be well known and universal. The flavor of whisky came to mind. It took five years to develop the rich flavor and smell that is the trademark of ArKay.”[more]
While ArKay mimics the taste of whisky, it is classified as a soft drink since it contains no alcohol. It conforms to halal guidelines and meets the ingredient requirements of both the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Economic Community. The beverage will be available in both one-liter glass bottles and 12-ounce aluminum cans. The packaging uses green and gold as the primary colors and carries a design that is vaguely Arabic in look and feel. The word “ArKay” appears to be almost handwritten in black letters. Ahmed calls it “a great fresh brand approach.”
The name “Arkay” is as unconventional as the product itself, and it came about serendipitously. One of the original owners of the company spilled hot coffee at himself at a meeting and was asked, “Are you OK?” According to Ahmed, “the other owner had an epiphany and shouted ‘Arkay’ and that’s when the name came about.”
While the company refers to the product as “halal whisky,” Ahmed says ArKay targets “people who can’t drink due to medical reasons and religious beliefs.” The brand, he says, “was designed for everyone to enjoy.” Since it tastes and looks “exactly like traditional whisky,” ArKay can be used for drinking straight up, on the rocks, or with soda and mixers.
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Arkay Beverages is currently looking for wholesalers and retailers both in the U.S. and worldwide.
In recent years, brands have recognized the value of the Muslim market and have started to create halal-certified foods and products. In the U.S., for example, a $200 billion market of six to eight million American Muslims is still fertile ground for brand marketers and is just beginning to attract the attention of major marketers. While the halal market is roughly equivalent to the Kosher foods market, the number of products targeting the Kosher consumer is much greater.
Clearly, Arkay Beverages hopes to fill a gap with its halal whisky, both in the U.S. and globally.