Looking for an alternative to your usual spirit? Wanting to cut down in 2019? We may have found the answer…
The big trend for the spirits and drinks industry isn’t craft vodka or the latest microbrew but rather low alcohol and non-alcoholic alternatives. Have us Brits finally had enough of hangovers?
To take advantage of this sea change is Seedlip, who hope to answer the answer of what to drink when you’re not drinking.
Marketed as the first truly ‘non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip is distilled just as you would expect from a white spirit such as gin and vodka, but with the alcohol removed before bottling.
If you are worried at all about the alcohol level still left don’t be. Whilst a drink needs to be under 0.5% to be classed as non-alcoholic in the UK, Seedlip is way under that figure – closer to the alcohol content of a loaf of bread or glass of orange juice i.e. not worth thinking about.
Why Seedlip is not a non-alcoholic gin
If you go into trying Seedlip looking just for an alternative to your favourite gin you may be a little disappointed. Although Seedlip is made in a similar way to gin, using botanicals to give its flavour and depth, it very much is not a gin-a-like and neither is it trying to be.
For starters, none of the Seedlip varieties currently being sold contains Juniper, the main botanical of gin. The thinking behind this is that if it were to have juniper and be more gin-like it would still be lacking ‘something’. By creating their own flavours it helps distinguish it from gin and other such drinks. Think of it as having something different rather than lessor.
It also does not contain alcohol 🙂
Seedlip Tasting Event @ King Street Town House
To find out more about Seedlip, I went along to a night they were putting on at the King Street Townhouse with bestie and currently taking a break from drinking friend Helen. She’s written a few words about the night below:
We were welcomed to the beautifully decorated basement room of the King Street Townhouse by a wonderful host, who served us a delicious cocktail, reminiscent of an Aperol spritz, without the alcohol. This was very welcome as it’s a cocktail I’ve missed since decided to stop drinking, and the refreshing citrus bitterness was just right.
Sitting around a large wooden table, accompanied by bird song and nature sounds, we learned all about the story of Seedlip and it’s green origins on creator Ben Branson’s pea farm in North Lincolnshire.
We tasted the 3 varieties of Seedlip, Grove 42 – a bitter citrus distillate, Spice 94 – a warm spice and cardamom aromatic and my personal favourite, as well as Garden 108, a savoury green herbal.
We made our own Seedlip and tonics, and using a selection of colourful fruits, herbs and vegetables, went wild with the decoration to make our own personalised drink.
I chose fennel, rosemary and peas to complement the grassy, elegant Garden 108 and Danny chose bitter chicory, orange peel and thyme with his Spice 94.
Delving deeper into the history of distillation and how the secret recipe was perfected, the evening ended with another fantastic cocktail – featuring a forced rhubarb and raw apple cider vinegar ‘shrub’. Not a bush, as I’d originally presumed, a shrub is a delicious sweetened vinegar-based syrup, made by our host himself, and it worked perfectly with the Seedlip Spice 94 and soda, garnished with a rhubarb stem. I asked for the recipe and I’ll be making this at home as soon as my rhubarb grows enough!
We were given a lovely gift set to take home to make our own Seedlip creations, and I can’t wait to get creative with the garnish and host a non-alcoholic cocktail evening to brighten up a dark winter night.
Thoughts on Seedlip
After trying Seedlip at the event and also getting a bottle to share with friends and family at home I’m more than a fan of it. Not only does it taste great, but it also works far better than any other non-alcoholic spirit that I’ve tried in the past. If you’re taking a break from drinking for any reason, I urge you to give it a shot.
However, whilst I’m a big fan of the brand and will be getting a regular bottle in for home, I can see their being issues with it gaining more mainstream acceptance.
At £26 a bottle, or £4.50 to £5 a shot at a bar, it certainly isn’t cheap. For the average consumer (which I understand this is not aimed at), they are going to baulk at paying more for Seedlip than they do for their usual bottle of spirit.
I struggle to imagine that many people picking it up from the shelf without hearing about it or getting the chance to try it first.
To alleviate this, they need to get as many people to try it – in bars, restaurants events etc, allowing people to ‘discover it’ and let them spread the word organically. There’s certainly demand for non-alcoholic choices beyond a lime and soda.
I do urge everyone to try it though – bizarrely I’ve been finding people’s initial reactions says more about their relationship with alcohol than it does about the drink itself.
I do highly recommend that if you are going to try Seedlip you do so with a proper mixer (i.e fever tree) and plenty of ice. Without the fat from the alcohol to coat your mouth it does not work drinking straight. Think how badly low-fat mayonnaise compares to the real thing and you get the idea.
Why would you want to shot it anyway?!
Varieties of Seedlip
There are currently three varieties of Seedlip available:
Spice 94: The original, and for my money the best one to start with. Jamaican Allspice berry with a citrus finish. Best served with tonic
Garden 108: If you are a lover of British Vegetables this is the one to choose. Garden peas and traditional herbs. If a British farm had a flavour it would be this.
Grove 42: The latest addition to the range. Very zesty with a strong orange flavour – perfect for long summer days.
Where to Buy a bottle
Seedlip is currently stocked at Booths supermarket and is also being trialled in Marks and Spencers Food Halls. You can also check out the Seedlip website at www.seedlipdrinks.com
If you do get a chance to try it let me know what you think!