“It’s Wind in the Willows + Cereal Magazine + David Attenborough.”
This is how Ben Branson describes Seedlip: a ‘nature company that just happens to make drinks.’
Claiming the title of the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip is an all-natural beverage with a complex flavour that’s almost impossible to describe. Distilled using ingredients like fermented hay, peas, American oak, spearmint, and grapefruit peel, it’s designed to solve the problem of what to drink when you’re not drinking. And the response has been huge.
Since Branson began experimenting in his cottage kitchen a couple of years ago, using ingredients foraged from the neighbouring woods (which were used as trench training grounds in the Second World War and whose tunnels are ripe with wild garlic) and referring to the 17th century tome ‘The Art of Distillation’ to chart his course, Seedlip has gone on to be served in over 100 Michelin Restaurants, stocked at some of the most exclusive stores in the world, and, perhaps most impressively, has replaced the Espresso Martini as Kate Moss’ favourite tipple.
Branson, a former graphic designer, famously hand bottled, labelled and delivered his first ever batch of bottles to Selfridges, after successfully winning a pitch that started with the buyer saying: 'I'll give you 15 minutes and I hate anything that doesn't have alcohol in it.'
Selfridge’s initial order from Branson - 1000 bottles - sold out in just three weeks. A second batch sold out in three days, and the third sold out online in 30 minutes. It was through Selfridge’s that Seedlip won such extensive distribution through London’s best bars.
Branson thinks his success has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. As The Sydney Morning Herald noted last weekend, a growing wave of people are re-assessing their relationship with alcohol – and in Australia it’s the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who seem keenest to give it up for good. The rise of social media, the shift from health and wellbeing to the fashionable mainstream, and this growing army of ‘gray-area drinkers’ have all contributed to Seedlip’s rise to the top. So dramatic has the success been that Diageo, the company behind Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness, have even bought a 20% stake in it.
We’re hosting the team from Seedlip at a series of tastings in our newest space this week, so you can try some of the magic elixir yourself if you happen to be in Sydney.
AUGUST TASTINGS AT SORRY THANKS I LOVE YOU
Ground Floor, 5 Martin Place, Sydney
(enter via 120 Pitt Street)
Thursday 30 August: 5-7pm
Friday 31 August: 1-2pm
Saturday 1 September: 2-4pm
Two of Seedlip’s three flavour profiles are currently available in Australia, Garden and Spice, and both will be available to try at our tastings. (Seedlip’s newest flavour, Grove, will be released later in the year.) Seedlip Spice is an earthy mix of cardamom, Jamaican allspice berries and American oak, while the more herbaceous Seedlip Garden combines spearmint, rosemary and thyme with hay and green peas. The peas and hay come from Branson’s farm in The Chilterns, where his family have been farming for more than 300 years.
“I grew up with an innate sense of how important the land is and a deep appreciation for the natural world so it’s important to me to continue this championship of nature in all that we do at Seedlip,” says Branson.
After all, Seedlip is just a nature company that happens to make drinks.