Seedlip ceo Ben Branson talks about the genesis of his young brand and shares his views on the evolution of the no-low trend.
What was behind the creation of the brand?
Seedlip is a product of my upbringing: my mother’s family has been farming in the North of England for more than 300 years, and my father started London-based creative design agency Pearlfisher. A lot of my time growing up was spent outdoors and I learned from an early age what a brand was and how valuable design can be. With Seedlip I get to work with my mom on our farm for the ingredients and with my dad at Pearlfisher to bring the brand to life. Before launching Seedlip, I was running my own design agency, growing lots of herbs and vegetables and looking for new seeds to sow. My research opened me up to the world of botany and herbal remedies and I bought a copper still and tinkered around in my kitchen with no real ambition in mind. Then one night I was out, didn’t feel like drinking and ordered what turned out to be a monstrously sweet drink. From there the dots started joining: what can you drink when you don’t want alcohol or soda—something with ritual, theater, sophistication and complexity but minus the alcohol? Then followed a two-year slog that resulted in a six-week bespoke distillation process that treats all ingredients individually to create a distilled non-alcoholic spirit. Seedlip targets people who drink, but who are not drinking.
Did you sense the burgeoning “no-low” movement?
I think that timing accounts for 99.9% of the success we’ve had so far! When we started out, I saw that consumers globally were drinking lower volumes of alcohol, were drinking better and that value was going up, while fizzy sugary soft drinks were in decline. Today, more than 40 products have launched into this space in the last nine months from over 15 countries. It seems as if this is the year that the category is being taking seriously.
Diageo took a minority share of Seedlip in 2016.
Yes, just six months after our launch. Diageo knows about premium, they know about global and they obviously know about the drinks industry so they are an invaluable partner to help us change the way the world drinks. I could have never dreamt that in just three years we’d have offices in the UK, Los Angeles and Sydney and that we’d be distributed in 25 countries and most of the world’s best bars and restaurants. My goal is to continue expanding to build a global premium portfolio.
How will you expand your portfolio?
In the spring we took the brand to a new level with the launch of a second business: a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs called Acorn. Like Seedlip (Spice, Garden, Grove), it launched with three skus: Acorn Dry, Acorn Bitter and Acorn Aromatic. They are meant to be used Spritz style for pre-dinner type occasions and also along with Seedlip for cocktails. Acorn is verjus-based (editor’s note: grapes that are pressed early on in the growth process) using pinot noir and chardonnay from an English vintner, which we then aromatize with botanicals, herbs and bitter roots. The products are blended and bottled in England.
Read our full interview with Ben Branson in Formes de Luxe's September issue, n° 132.