Ben Branson is a man of many hobbies—he paints, presses flowers, practices taxidermy and collects 1940s Penguin books. So, it wasn’t stretch for him to chance upon a 300-year-old tome on the art of distillation and proceed to buy a copper distiller online to try it out for himself. Two years later, that hobby culminated in Seedlip.
Branded “the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits”, these fragrant distillations have turned out to be what the beverage world never knew it wanted—a worthy base from which to concoct non-alcoholic beverages with the same complexity and refinement as their alcoholic brethren.
Available in two varieties, Spice 94 and Garden 108, these concentrations are not meant to be drunk alone. Diluted with a bit of tonic and spiked with a citrus peel, they make a fantastic alternative to a gin and tonic. Select bars in Singapore, like Nouri, Caffe Fernet, The Secret Mermaid and Native, are already serving Seedlip in non-alcoholic craft cocktails.
Ben talks to us about creating Seedlip, the book that started it all, and how it’s changed his drinking habits.
How did get your hands on one of the oldest editions of The Art of Distillation?
Ben Branson (BB) After I found the PDF online, I knew I wanted to find a copy of this book. You can find a reprint of it on Amazon, but I wanted to find an old copy. So, I emailed the British library and they have the original owned by King George III. I booked an appointment to see it. The guy at the library met me with white gloves and a pillow to lay the book on. It was this tiny little book and it made me want my own copy even more. I emailed loads of antique booksellers in England and after three months, one guy emailed me and said, “I just picked up about 150 books from a house sale and I have a copy of The Art of Distillation. Do you want to come and see it?” Of course, I did, and I bought it for about $2,000. Yes, it’s expensive for a book, but not expensive considering it’s about 300 years old.