Last week I received some samples of Seedlip, which is described on their website as so:
Seedlip is a range of the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits based on the distilled non-alcoholic remedies from The Art of Distillation written in 1651 and now re-purposed to pioneer a new category of drinks to solve the ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking dilemma’.
Back in my drinking days I could have never imagined anything more pointless than alcohol-free versions of classically alcoholic drinks, however I changed my tune on becoming sober, and these days I genuinely enjoy a chilled alcohol-free beer of an evening, and sometimes even alcohol-free wine is alright with a nice meal or whatever. These are drinks that taste nice though, and I don’t recall spirits ever being something I enjoyed the taste of – they just afforded me a quicker route to Spangledville. Maybe, for that reason, I’m not the right person to be reviewing an alcohol-free spirit. It’s probably like asking my dad to review an Insane Clown Posse album. It’s never going to be a glowing review.
I am, however, a sucker for free stuff, so onward we go.
Seedlip comes in two varieties: Spice 94 – which smells a bit like men’s atershave, and Garden 108 – which smells a bit like, erm, a garden. Or possibly one of those air fresheners to make your house smell like a forest.
They also kindly sent me a couple of bottles of tonic water to mix them with, so on Saturday night me and the missus mixed a tumbler of each variety over plenty of ice, and settled down to watch Anchorman on the telly after a mental day of doing STUFF and THINGS.
Both of us had the same first impression – euurrgh. Both varieties of Seedlip have a harmless enough aroma, but also a strong and unpleasant flavour which I would definitely liken to gin as it’s closest spirit match. In my booze days a strong unpleasant flavour meant a strong drink, so I’d have battled on purely for the buzz, but with this stuff there was no motivation to keep drinking, and we ultimately abandoned our drinks in favour of hot, steamy, tasty Yorkshire Tea (the choice of winners).
The next day we had an early start (early for a Sunday anyway), and a long drive ahead of us for a day out at Alton Towers. We spent a good 30 minutes of the 2 hour journey discussing the point of Seedlip – its place and its function. We both agreed that it did a good job of replicating the experience of drinking an alcoholic spirit, but – at least in my opinion – it’s not a job that anyone needs doing. Does anyone reeeeeally drink spirits for the taste? Do they reeeeeeeeally though? Maybe they do, but I never did.
By all accounts Seedlip has had a strong start, managing, from it’s London Covent Garden HQ, to secure an exclusive deal with Selfridges, and expanding it’s distribution channels to include other big names like Harvey Nichols, as well as being able to count some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants among it’s stockists – such as Claridge’s of London, and Heston Blumenthal’s own experimental food gaff The Fat Duck. It feels to me, and this is just my own personal opinion, like this is a bit of a posh fad for rich people. It’s also £28 a bottle, which is a lot to spend on a bottle of something that isn’t going to get you smashed, make you smell lovely (well, it might if you pour it on yourself I suppose), or help your car engine run smoother.
To conclude this short review: Seedlip isn’t something I would want to drink again, and it’s certainly not something I would pay £28 for – but that’s just me. I like to think I’ve got an open mind, and as such I’m always keen to try new things, but this isn’t for me. I was really hoping that I’d discovered something new and exciting for us non-drinkers, plus I always try and be supportive of new UK businesses where possible. The branding is good, the marketing is solid, the product looks great (lovely artwork on the bottles) but I just can’t find a real purpose for this stuff. At least not in my world.
As I said at the start of the review – I’m probably not the best placed person to review Seedlip. Other reviewers have loved it, so maybe it is just me (and the missus) that aren’t fans. I wish founder Ben Branson every success in what must be one of the most competitive industries out there, and I think it’s great that they are trying to do something new and innovative.
As an alcoholic drink it would probably do quite well, what with it’s interesting flavours and great branding. I wonder if they’ve considered adding booze to it?