The all-new, non-alcohol spirit that solves the age-old problem of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’…
It’s been a long time coming, but Seedlip is finally here to shake up the stock-standard world of mocktails. Ben Branson, a former agency professional from a farming family, and the mastermind behind this non-alcoholic spirit, spoke with explore DRINKS about his start in the industry, the experimentation process and the subsequent success of Seedlip.
explore DRINKS: From quitting agency life, now to building your own brand, tell us about Seedlip from its inception to where it is today.
Ben Branson: My mother’s side of my family has been farming for 320 years and my father has been in brand design for the last 40, so Seedlip is certainly a product of my upbringing and was the perfect opportunity to work with both sides of my family to solve a modern day dilemma, ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’.
Seedlip’s story originates from when apothecaries were distilling both alcohol and non-alcoholic herbal remedies in the 17th century. While 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, and in November 2015 I had hand-bottled and hand-labelled the first 1000 bottles, which sold out in three weeks. The next batch sold out in three days and the third batch in 30 minutes online!
Eighteen months later, I’m not hand-labelling bottles, thankfully, and Seedlip is served in some of the best cocktail bars, restaurants and hotels in London, L.A., New York and Copenhagen. This includes over 80 Michelin starred restaurants, the best three cocktail bars in the worlds, as ranked by the World’s 50 best bars 2016, and being stocked in retailers such as Harrods, Dean & Deluca, Fortnum & Mason and now David Jones in Australia.
eD: Given your agency background, has this helped with building the Seedlip brand?
BB: I was very fortunate to work on iconic brands such as Absolut, Nike and Heineken, as well as on startup challenger brands and this stood me in good stead, I think, on understanding the fundamentals of creating a meaningful brand beyond a bottle and a logo.
From the naming (a Seedlip is the Olde English name of a seed sowers basket my family used to use) to bring to life an aesthetic that was both desirable and unique, I only realised how much I’d absorbed in my career when it came to then applying that experience to my own brand.
eD: Growing peas and farming has been in your family for generations, did you always want to stay in the family business? And did you always have the vision of creating your own spirits brand?
BB: I’ve always had a deep-seated love for nature and I’m happiest outside but didn’t actually consider farming as a career as such. I just knew it was important to find my own way of continuing our family legacy, diversifying what we do and working with the land. Having worked on other people’s brands, I definitely dreamt of having my own brand one day but had no set idea of what that could be until I came across ‘The Art of Distillation’ and everything seemed to just fall into place.
eD: Seedlip is listed in some of the best bars in London and New York, where can our readers find Seedlip in Australia?
BB: We’re excited to announce Seedlip is now available exclusively in David Jones stores and online nationwide, and we are also working with some of Australia’s most dynamic bars & restaurants to offer guests great adult options.
eD: How has the reception been so far when consumers taste Seedlip? Are they surprised it has zero alcohol?
BB: Seedlip neat contains no alcohol or sugar, is extremely aromatic with a lighter, waxy consistency on the palate. Both Seedlip products are best mixed with tonic or as the base for non-alcoholic cocktails, and whilst we haven’t deliberately attempted to mimic alcohol, our complex flavour profiles do mean people get an adult drink that isn’t lacking.
eD: Tell us about the flavour profiles of Spice 94 and Garden 108.
BB: We have created two completely unique blends of plants, rather than matching any alcohol taste profile.
Seedlip Garden 108 is a herbal blend of peas and hay from our farm, rosemary and thyme, spearmint and hops.
Seedlip Spice 94 is an aromatic blend of all spice berries and cardamom, oak and cascarilla bark, lemon and grapefruit peel.
eD: How can consumers best enjoy Seedlip?
BB: A Seedlip and tonic is our signature serve.
For Garden 108, we recommend a highball full of ice, 50ml Seedlip, a handful of peas (yes really!), topped with tonic water.
For Spice 94, a highball full of ice, 50ml Seedlip, top with tonic water and garnish with a red grapefruit twist.
This story originally appeared in explore DRINKS Spring. Click here to get your copy.