Even if you are not really familiar with the range of non-alcoholic distillates (or as they are often called, non-alcoholic alternatives to Gin or other spirits), chances are that you have seen Seedlip somewhere. Seedlip is by far the most famous alcohol-free distillate on the market and is currently easily available in most supermarkets. We will not start a discussion about whether or not Seedlip was the first alcohol-free distillate available, but it’s a fact that Seedlip placed these types of drinks on the market and paved the path for other producers who want to launch an alcohol-free distillate.
The reason why some creative brains start with an alcohol-free alternative to a drink is actually always about the same. Usually, for whatever reason, someone does not want to drink alcohol for a while and is very disappointed in the range of non-alcoholic beverages that he can find in a cafe, restaurant or in the supermarket. That was also the case with Ben Branson, the founder of Seedlip. Ben comes from a farming family with a tradition of more than 300 years. As a result, he became fascinated by natural ingredients and the cultivation of plants and herbs. When he was able to get hold of the book ‘the art of distillation’ from 1651, he started experimenting with the distillation of an alcohol-free drink, based on the plants and herbs grown by his family.
After quite a bit of experimenting, Branson came up with his first product, the Seedlip Spice 94. This first Seedlip is based on a distillate of allspice, cardamom, two types of bark and it contains a hint of citrus. After the Spice 94, the Garden 108 and the Grove 42 later joined the range. The Garden 108 is based on peas and hay, supplemented with typical English garden herbs, while the Grove 42 is the fruity scion of the family, with three types of orange and a strong spice mix as ingredients.
Many other non-alcoholic distillates use the juniper as the main ingredient, perhaps to come close to the taste of Gin. Ben Branson does not do this. He consciously experiments with flavours that match and he can use to make a delicious alcohol-free alternative. So it is absolutely forbidden to call Seedlip an alcohol-free Gin, but actually, the wildly popular drink is often marketed and sold in this way. We wanted to test how the three Seedlips taste and will also use them in some cocktails later on.
Before we start tasting, we notice the nutritional values of the various drinks. We simply see the figure zero for every value, which is a pleasant side effect, as with many non-alcoholic distillates. Seedlip contains no calories, no sugars, no fats, no carbohydrates, etc. … In addition to being alcohol-free, this drink is also completely safe to use when you are on a diet or want to live a healthy life.
Although it is not really the intention to drink this type of distillate pure, we first taste the three types of Seedlip in undiluted version. When we smell the three types of Seedlip one after the other, we notice that these are actually three completely different drinks. What we exactly smelled and tasted is described below per product, but we can already say that it is striking that these three products are simply very well made. You taste the flavors that are promised and it is furthermore unlikely that any artificial chemical flavor enhancers are used in any of the three distillates. You immediately taste that these are natural products. There is absolutely no question of any sweetness that you sometimes taste in cheap alternatives, which of course explains the zero calories.
Seedlip Spice 94
This first descendant of the triumvirate contains allspice, cardamom and two types of bark. You don’t even have to taste to discover these flavors, just smelling is enough. You can clearly smell cardamom and a very spicy touch from the allspice. You can also smell a hint of cinnamon and some very earthy scents, possibly from the bark used.
When you taste the Spice 94, you get exactly what you can expect when you smell the Spice 94, although we expected the flavors to be slightly more prominent. The citrus mentioned in the description is certainly present, but you can taste it mainly in the aftertaste.
The Spice 94 will, in our opinion, particularly appeal to people who prefer slightly more spicy, Eastern flavors.
Seedlip Grove 42
The Grove 42 is the fruity one of the three. Here you can immediately smell fruit when you open the bottle and bring it to the nose. The smell of the Grove 42 is a little less complex and distinct than that of the Spice 94 and we expected that we would smell a little more herbs.
When tasting, it is mainly the fruit flavor that dominates. Here you will initially taste clear lemon. Surprisingly enough, the milder orange flavor remains the longest in the aftertaste. It is more noticeable in the taste that a herbal mixture is used than when you smell the Grove 42. The spicy touch ensures that the orange and lemon flavors are well supported and never become dull, but will never dominate.
We believe that Grove 42 will appeal to people who prefer a slightly sweeter and fruity aperitif.
Seedlip Garden 108
The Garden 108 has the most predominant scent of the three types of Seedlip. What you smell exactly is a bit more difficult to explain because it may be a surprising odor that you do not immediately expect when opening a bottle of alcohol-free distillate. This Garden 108 actually smells of vegetables or a vegetable garden. Perhaps this is due to the presence of the peas, but the English garden herbs will also be responsible for this. We could not really detect the hay when smelling.
We expected the Garden 108 to taste a bit duller than the Grove 42 we tasted just before, but that is not true. Due to the presence of the herbs, the Grove 42 starts off fairly sharp. We may be wrong, but we had the impression that thyme and sage lingered the longest, to gradually give way to the taste of, as expected, peas. Maybe a strange combo, but certainly not wrong.
Garden 108 is perhaps the most surprising taste of the three varieties, but that is why it is certainly worth a try.
In the mix
Soon we will present a customized cocktail based on each type of Seedlip, but as you can already imagine, the three types of Seedlip can be combined well with a Tonic to prepare a nice aperitif with it. If you really want to taste the Seedlip, it is best to use 5cl. Seedlip on 20cl. Tonic. Which Tonic you choose depends a bit on your own taste, but you can also let it depend on the Seedlip used. With a neutral tonic, you will taste the Seedlip best. If you want to accentuate the taste of the chosen Seedlip, choose a spicy tonic for the Spice 94 and a fruity one for the Grove 42. We think you can go in any direction with the Seedlip 108.
The three varieties of Seedlip are very well made and taste almost perfect as they promise. We have already drunk alcohol-free distillates that taste even stronger than this Seedlip, but there is certainly more than enough taste to use them in a cocktail. Which of the three types of Seedlip you choose depends entirely on yourself. By experimenting a bit with a delicious tonic with the right kind of Seedlip you can already provide a very nice aperitif based on one of these three bottles.