Ben Branson

Seedlip comes to Thyme

by Ben Branson At Thyme 24 Nov 16

My family’s story begins in the 17th century with our farm in Lincolnshire; nine generations ago when we began farming, there were no machines or tractors, so we used a basket called a Seedlip to sow seed.   Made from wood, wicker or metal, farmworkers would hoist a Seedlip to their shoulder and broadcast their seed; you can sow about an acre an hour, so as our farm was small this was a practical way to manage planting.  I thought it was the most perfect name; an ode to my family’s heritage and literally in what we do at my company.

I adore nature and am happiest outside. Instilled in me as a child was a deep appreciation for those who look after the land and work to put food and drink on our tables. As a lover of natural history I wanted to look into herbs and plants that were grown in centuries past, stuff that we don’t find on the supermarket shelves, that for whatever reason have gone out of fashion. 

Three years ago my research took me from Culpepper’s herbals right down the rabbit warren to learning about the 17th century distillation of non-alcoholic herbal remedies.  It was a time of poor sanitation, and falling ill would necessitate a visit to the pharmacy – known back then as an apothecary, whose skills with distilled botanicals might cure you of your ills.  I came across an extraordinary old tome published in 1651 called ‘The Art of Distillation’.  The original copy that belonged to King George III sits in The British Library and I have had the honour & pleasure of being able to see, read & photograph it. Inside I discovered recipes for non-alcoholic remedies distilled using small copper stills. My curiosity was piqued; I bought a small copper still and started experimenting with herbs from my garden. I’m no scientist or distiller but by referencing the techniques in the book and with a bit of trial and error, I found I could capture the true flavour of the plant. It was magical! 

The mission to create the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits and solve the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’ and continue my family’s legacy of working with the land was born. No more mocktails. No more fruit juices, no more sugar laden fizzy drinks. No more feeling left out and let down when, for whatever reason, you aren’t drinking. Christmas can be a nightmare for the non-drinker, the designated driver or the party-weary. Seedlip provides an adult, sophisticated drink and the opportunity to enjoy the festive period.

We have two products, both sugar, sweetener, calorie free with both using the highest quality ingredients we can find – Seedlip Spice 94 is an aromatic blend of two spices [All Spice & Cardamom], two citrus peels and two barks and best served with fever tree tonic and slice of grapefruit.  Seedlip Garden 108 was an opportunity for us to work with produce from my farm and capture my childhood memories of sitting in our pea fields with my grandfather.  We hand-picked 2½ tonnes of peas in pod from the farm, harvested my hay and then added distillates of rosemary, spearmint, English hops and thyme  – delicious with elderflower tonic and slice of cucumber.

Speaking of Thyme, I came to stay here this summer and was so inspired by their ethos. We couldn’t be more in tune with our love for the land so it’s very exciting that Seedlip is now available in their online shop and served at The Swan and in The Baa.  Their cocktail ‘A Seedlip Bramble’ might just be my new favourite way to drink Seedlip Spice!

Seedlip is now available to buy online from our 'Take a Little Thyme' online shop