The idea of a “non-alcoholic spirit” seems at best counterintuitive and at worst ridiculous. High alcohol content is often the first thing I think of when I hear the word “spirit,” typically followed by the words, “Oh lord.” But what really sets spirits apart from other alcoholic beverages is distillation, a process that can actually be applied to most liquids. So based on that logic, a UK-based company created Seedlip – billed as the “world’s first non-alcoholic spirit.” And this month, the liquor alternative is set to arrive in the US for the first time.
Though Ben Branson, the man behind Seedlip, certainly sees his product as unique, he admits he didn’t come up with the idea out of nowhere. “[I was] looking into different herbs to grow at home and I came across a book on the Internet written in 1651 that documented distilled herbal remedies that were non-alcoholic,” he told BevNET. After some deeper digging, he set up a small copper still in his kitchen and Seedlip was born.
The zero-calorie product – made from six-week distillations of different ingredients like thyme, rosemary, orange peel, hay and oak that are then individually mixed together – comes in two varieties. Spice 94 uses all-spice berries as its most dominant ingredient; Garden 102 focuses, unexpectedly, on peas hand-picked from Brandson’s garden in England.
If doing shots of alcohol-free distilled pea juice seems a bit pointless, you’re right. Though Seedlip products have a number of possible uses, the brand primarily focuses on encouraging its use as a “premium ingredient” in non-alcoholic “mocktails.” In fact, one of the keys to Seedlip’s success is that its potency is meant to correlate to that of an alcoholic spirit, allowing it to easily be used as a one-for-one swap in cocktails recipes.
And Seedlip has been surprisingly successful: BevNET reports that not only can it be found in over 250 bars, hotels and retailers around the UK, in July of last year, the company got a major investment from booze giant Diageo – the first time the company has ever invested in a non-alcoholic beverage brand.
Starting this month, Seedlip will be available at select bars and restaurants in the US including heavy hitters like The French Laundry, Manresa and Fiola. Outside of the bar and restaurant scene it is also available via online merchant Mikuni Wild Harvest and a representative from the company tells us they are also in discussions to sell Seedlip at Dean & Deluca and 23-ounce bottles come with a suggested retail price of $38.95. (Keep in mind, Seedlip is meant to mimic a spirit, so each bottle is said to contain about 14 servings.)
Branson said he hopes his product can help “solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking.” For me, I call that sleeping – but sure, I get what he’s saying.