David Orren, CEO of GABA Labs and Founder, speaks with New Food to mark Sober Oct. about how SENTIA GABA Spirits give adult consumers the “positive feel” of alcohol-free drinking.
Macmillan Cancer Support has now entered Sober October, or ‘Soctober.’ This is a month in which consumers over 18 years of age are encouraged to abstain from alcohol for 31 days in order to raise funds and encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes.
In a similar way to Dry January, Sober Oct promotes the complete elimination of alcohol from your diet. Though social drinking is popular in the UK, with “> USD 1,49 trillion by 2020. Since then, consumers around the globe have opted for low/no-alcohol beverages. New Food published a report in 2023 that Tesco sales data showed a “record” thirst for low-alcohol beer in the UK.
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There are many low-alcohol and no-alcohol beverage options available in supermarkets as well as hospitality venues. There is, however, one beverage that has caused quite a stir on social media in recent times…
David Orren, CEO of GABA Labs and co-founder of GABA Labs, explained to New Food how SENTIA GABA spirits give adult drinkers the “good feelings” of drinking alcohol without any alcohol.
What is Gaba Spirit, and how does it differ from other spirits on the market today?
David Orren, DO: SENTIA Spirits are a range of zero-alcohol functional adult beverages that renowned scientist Prof. David Nutt developed. SENTIA is an ‘available-now’ proof-of-concept beverage that was created to show the potential of a new breed of adult beverages with the conviviality most people desire from alcohol but without alcohol.
Under the guidance of Professor David Nutt, a renowned scientist and researcher, SENTIA GABA Spirits was developed.
Currently, all SENTIA products are made from botanicals. ‘SENTIA Plus,’ to be launched in the USA in 2026, will be the first beverage to contain Alcarelle. Nutt’s team at GABA Labs is currently developing this synthetic ingredient.
What is the science behind “new generation” innovations?
DO The botanical variants currently available of SENTIA GABA Spirits have been made with plants already found in the food supply chain. These botanical beverages are not subject to additional safety tests and can be consumed as a food or food supplement.
The plants are carefully chosen for their four main functions: GABAergic function (i.e., its impact on GABA neuroreceptors), absorption through the gut wall, which maximizes the solution in the bloodstream, transport across the blood-brain barrier (maximizes bioavailability), or a pleasant taste to counter the bitterness from the GABAergic plant materials.
Professor Nutt says that SENTIA is designed to activate positive feelings many consumers report after drinking two units of alcohol.
Does SENTIA replace alcohol? Or should it be consumed as a standalone beverage?
DO SENTIA was designed for adults who want to socialize the traditional way but avoid – or reduce – alcohol consumption.
SENTIA was developed as a proof-of-concept alternative to alcohol and is not a replacement for alcohol. Alcohol overwhelms a variety of neuroreceptors, causing chaos and stress in consumers. SENTIA was designed to facilitate a more simple exchange in a social setting.
GABA Labs aims to create a positive experience for social drinking by harnessing the natural reward system of humans.
What has been the reaction of consumers to this new beverage trend?
DO GABA Labs is pleasantly surprised by the demand from SENTIA users. SENTIA’s botanicals are very popular among consumers. While Alcarelle’s launch in the US in 2026 is their main goal, many have reported that SENTIA’s botanicals have ‘changed’ their lives, enabling them to participate in social events as they would have in the past with alcohol.
How will you keep the “good feeling” of SENTIA going?
DO SENTIA’s botanicals are all-natural products that have their unique flavor challenges. Consumers experience SENTIA differently. Some consumers have given SENTIA botanicals a very positive review, while others are not so happy with the taste.
SENTIA may not be for everyone. GABA Labs will partner with select drinks companies to release additional functional beverages such as RTDs and beers.
GABA Labs’ primary goal is to license and release the Alcarelle drink ingredient onto the global market. Alcarelle is a transparent liquid component designed to be approved by the global drinks industry in order to create a brand new generation of alcohol-free beverages that can satisfy a wider market.