It's the eternal quest – the adult soft drink to go beyond the pint of cola or the lime and soda. There are non-alcoholic beers, sure, and wines too, but now there's a spirit as well – newly-launched Seedlip.
Specifically, it's a 'distilled non-alcoholic spirit', and if that sounds like an oxymoron, that's because... well, it is. It consists of non-alcoholic distillates of six botanicals, blended together without any alcohol or sugar.
Those six botanicals consist of two barks, two spices and two peels. The first five – American oak, Guatemalan cardamom, allspice, cascarilla bark and grapefruit, are distilled at a vinegar distillery in Germany. They're put separately through a copper still using water and a small amount of alcohol. Lemon peel, the final botanical, is technically a 'hydrolat' – a steam-extracted essence, distilled using a stainless steel still at source in Argentina.
The nose of this clear, spirit-looking stuff is botanically-led (unsurprisingly), with woody spice and citrus both in play, with allspice and cola-like notes dominant. The palate's thin (also unsurprisingly) and bone-dry, but with some appealing steely lemon acidity, and a touch of bitterness.
Seedlip was presented to a collection of top London bartenders yesterday at the Chelsea Physic Garden, presented in the recommended serve, with tonic. It was also made into a non-alcoholic kind of Dirty Martini – something of a mind-bending drink to be sipping early in the morning. Being non-alcoholic, there's also potential to freeze Seedlip.
The inspiration for this stuff came from a book from 1651 entitled The Art of Distillation, containing distillation recipes both with alcohol and without. The name comes from the basket traditionally used to sow seed.
It's getting an initial launch in Selfridges mid-October, but the overall focus is on the on-trade.