We love to keep our eyes peeled for new and exciting innovators, and one that’s had our attention for much of 2018 is Seedlip. The exciting brand has achieved no mean feat; they’ve created the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. we sat down to talk botanical ingredients and floral artwork with founder Ben Branson who takes us on the Seedlip journey, from the 17th century to
Seedlip is the first non-alcoholic distilled drink. Can you tell us about its inception?
Seedlip’s story actually begins in the 17th century when my family had started farming, and apothecaries were distilling both alcoholic and non-alcoholic herbal remedies. In 2013 whilst researching herbs to grow at home, I came across a book written in 1651 called The Art of Distillation that documented these remedies. Out of curiosity, I began experimenting with a little copper still in my kitchen.
Three months later I was out for a meal, wasn’t drinking, and asked the waitress what non-alcoholic options they had. The pink fruity mocktail I was offered was the moment all the dots began to join up, and I decided to do something about it. The next two years were spent creating the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit.
It was the perfect opportunity to bring together my mother’s 300 year farming heritage, my love of nature and my father’s design expertise to solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking, and rid the world of poor, fruity and sweet options.
We love the use of botanical ingredients in Seedlip. What is the development process, and who decides on the ingredients?
I wanted to create unique profiles, specific blends of real ingredients that tasted unlike anything anyone had ever tried before. I’m very proud of my family’s heritage and it was actually memories of my childhood that gave me the inspiration for our blends.
Seedlip Spice 94 recreates the aromas of sitting in the combine during harvest when there are all these wonderful woody, warm and earthy notes, Seedlip Garden 108 was an opportunity to capture the freshness of sitting in our pea fields with my grandfather eating them fresh out of the pod, and Seedlip Grove started from my mother giving me oranges in my Christmas stocking, as she still does today!
We don’t have to conform to any existing drinks categories or flavours, which means we have the freedom to experiment with pairing different plants in different ways, much like a chef might approach a dish. The trick is to create balance and complexity that can really shine through when mixed with tonic or as the beginning of a non-alcoholic cocktail
Wow. So much has happened this year!
We won our second gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show for our garden that celebrated the peas we pick from my farm for Seedlip Garden.
We opened an office in Los Angeles, expanded to 25 countries, launched our new Grove 42 and a recipe book with Penguin. Our shop in Mayfair has been open for six weeks and will continue to the end of January and our global pop up called Nolo® that focused on inclusivity and flavour through no and lo alcohol cocktails was a real hit.
We just announced news of a new brand we’re launching called Æcorn Aperitifs and have just received planning permission for Beasley, our laboratory and experimental nursery we are building on my farm. Crikey… when you write it all out like that we’ve done a lot.
Nature appears to be an integral part of the company from the alchemy to the branding – does it hold important value to your founder?
I’m happiest outside, happiest in the countryside and luxury to me is listening to the wind, watching the colours change, seeing the first daffodils or snowdrops, feeling the grass beneath my feet or the earth in my hands. I love nature and have built Seedlip and our culture to be a nature company that makes drinks rather than just a drinks company.
You’ve been championed by some of the world’s leading bars. Why do you think it’s proven so popular?
We are proud to work with many of the world’s best cocktail bars including the number 1 and number 2 in London (Dandelyan and The Savoy). These guys are committed to their guests’ experience whether they are drinking alcohol or not. The experience and the highest quality hospitality are their numbering priority which means providing a great choice.
Is there a chance of flowers making it into your next potion?!
Never say never!
Finally, can you recommend to our McQueens Blog readers your favourite Seedlip cocktail for the festive season?
Yes, – try the Thoroughbread, our take on a Moscow Mule.
Spice 94: 50ml
Fever Tree Ginger Ale: 125ml
Garnish: Orange slice
Take a tall glass, fill with ice. Add the Spice 94, top with ginger ale, and garnish with a slice of orange.