We catch up with Seedlip founder Ben Branson on continuing his family’s 300 year old farming legacy and the creation of the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits brand, solving the dilemma of ‘what-to –drink-when-you’re-not-drinking’.
Tell us about the brand?
Launched in November 2015, Seedlip is a nature company that makes drinks…. We are a brand that champions the natural world, it’s history, beauty and ingenuity… We call it The Art of Nature. It’s Wind in the Willows + Cereal Magazine + David Attenborough if that makes any sense! Blended and bottled in England, Seedlip’s range contains two distilled sugar free, sweetener free, non-alcoholic spirits: Seedlip Spice 94 and Seedlip Garden 108.
Why call it Seedlip?
When my family began farming there were no machines to sow seed, so we used baskets called Seedlips. I thought it was a fitting connection to the growers and ingredients we work with, a literal translation of how we take botanicals from seed to lip and a nostalgic nod to my family’s heritage.
What inspired you to create a non alcoholic spirit?
For 5 years I was looking for something that could bring everything I love and know about into one place that could have a real reason to exist in people’s lives. It took a book from 1651 and as a non-drinker being sick and tired of Shirley Temples to kickstart a two year crusade of creating something no one had ever done before so we can solve this dilemma of ‘what-to-drink-when-you’re-not-drinking’.
Tell us about the two varieties and how their names came about?
Seedlip Spice 94 is an aromatic and complex blend of individual copper-pot distillates including Oak, Allspice Berries and Grapefruit peel. 94 refers to the year 1494 when Christopher Columbus discovered All Spice Berries in Jamaica where Seedlip’s all spice berries are specifically sourced from.
Seedlip Garden 108 is a green and floral blend of individual copper-pot distillates including handpicked peas and hay from my family farm and traditional herbs including spearmint, rosemary & thyme.
108 refers to the average number of days it takes to sow grow and pick the garden peas grown on my farm and used in the product.
Who do you see as the Seedlip drinker?
We are learning we have real traction with Foodies. People who care about quality, ingredients, provenance and what they eat and drink.
Did your farming background help you with the brand and if so how?
Absolutely, I’m very proud of my family’s 300 year farming legacy.
Work with some of our own grown produce is the first step to really solidifying the connection of ground to glass that for me completes Seedlip’s circle. We’re really just a nature company that happens to make drinks so the more of this connection to the natural world I can bring to the brand the better!
Do you work with bartenders to create Seedlip cocktails?
I work with the wonderful Barrie Wilson on our serves. I approach our cocktails as a complete novice and naïve with a ‘what if and why not’ approach, Barrie’s background is travelling the world making incredible alcoholic cocktails so it’s a great mix as there are no ‘rules’ to what we’re doing.
What’s the best way to drink Seedlip?
With our first product Seedlip Spice 94 we recommend serving it with Fever Tree tonic and a red grapefruit twist. With our second product Seedlip Garden 108 it’s best with Fever Tree’s Elderflower tonic and a ribbon of cucumber.
What’s your favourite alcoholic and non alcoholic cocktail? Tipple?
Although I don’t drink, I’m in awe of what’s happening in the alcoholic cocktail world but… I think no-one can better a beautifully balanced martini for all it’s iconic grace.
I’m biased, but we made a leather & smoke sour for Belstaff’s Men’s Collection last weekend with Spice 94 which went down a storm!
What’s next for the Seedlip brand?
We’ve just launched our second product Seedlip Garden 108 and have our third launching later this year. I have a rapidly growing full time Seedlip team which is really exciting – from starting out doing everything myself 4 months ago and now we’re planning to go to some cities in the US and Western Europe so there’s a lot to do!
Where can we buy Seedlip?
Seedlip has been championed by some of the most influential bartenders, sommeliers and chefs and is available in some of the UK’s finest Michelin Star restaurants, hotels and retailers including The Ledbury, The Savoy and Selfridges. Both our products are available from our website and at retailers including Selfridges, Bottle Apostles, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Berry Bros & Rudd and 31Dover.
What was the last thing you saw that made you stop and stare?
My courgette flowers have bloomed. Stunning and delicious!