Dry July – that phrase that works better in the northern hemisphere when you are hoping it doesn’t rain during summer months – strikes shame into the heart of drinkers downunder. Yes, it’s supposedly when we should bring ourselves to account, and count the alcoholic drinks we consume, and make a pledge to go ‘dry’ for the month of July, perhaps even getting someone to sponsor our efforts in order to raise money for charity. It’s all very well, applaudable and all of that, but it does make for a miserable month of cold wet days and nights tucked up inside with only a hot water bottle for company. No partying, no dinners, no early evening snifters around the fire …it’s a hot cocoa and early nights for a long boring month.
That was the outlook for me, until last Sunday, when I cracked open a bottle of Seedlip. At $64 a bottle, mind, this bottle was going to have to last. I took down a long gin glass from the cupboard (note: always keep spirit glasses up high so at least you get a stretch when reaching for them!), tumbled in some crushed ice, poured a 50ml measure of Seedlip Spice 94 into the glass and topped it up with East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic. Then I sat by the fire and sipped, and sipped, and sniffed and sipped, and sniffed and sipped some more. What a drink! How delicious! My new love!
The next night, I was itching for more, and I repeated the ritual, and again on Tuesday. I had started Dry July very well indeed. In fact, I may never drink gin again. Pay attention; I didn’t say I may never drink again, just never drink gin again, which I do, oh, around once a year. But I digress …
If you haven’t tried Seedlip, but you like drinks with a botanical edge, a bit sort of woodsy and spicy, with zinging citric notes, this could be the drink for you. It’s a flavour bomb. I swear, little garden nymphs escape from the bottle as soon as you twist the cap, filling the air with the fragrance of an autumnal meadow. Very nice. In truth, the fragrance might be closer to an old-fashioned pomander – an orange or similar fruit studded all over with cloves and hung somewhere to keep insects away – but I like the nymph notion better.
There’s no sugar in Seedlip, but along with spicy woody notes of scented tree bark, allspice and cardamom, there’s a sprinkle of icing-sugar sweetness mid-palate which is cleaned up with a lick of citric acid. Balanced perfectly. Did I mention feral? All good drinks have a mysterious layer, something you can’t quite determine, something you can’t quite decide if you like or not, so you drink more to try and work it out, and, oops, the glass is drained, and you are still beguiled. Think of a multi-layered pinot noir with layers of chicken coop, forest floor, earth and hummus. Not things you would normally want to put in your mouth. But they provide the backbone, the interest, to the wine, stretching the fruit in new directions. Seedlip Spice 94 is clean (there is another version, Seedlip Garden 108), but there is definitely a fleeting hint of bark and ‘forest floor’. This in no way detracts from the drink, in fact it adds to its enjoyment, bringing in another intriguing layer. Summing up, to my taste-buds anyway, a drink with a heady carnation and orange rind aroma, with a burst of spicy cloves, mace and cinnamon in the mouth, with a lingering sweet carnation-clove finish. Enjoy it with a peeled segment of pink grapefruit or a twist of peel and tonic water, or my fave, tonic water flavoured with red grapefruit and pomelo.
It’s taken me to this point to say the remarkable thing about the Seedlip drinks is that these are the ‘World’s First Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits’. Bravo! A round of applause please. A sophisticated drink to enjoy any time of day or evening. It’s not something to choose over alcohol, it’s a drink to choose because it tastes so good. The fact it is sugar-free, sweetener-free, calorie-free, with no artificial colours or flavours and with no allergens, is a bonus. Of course, it is best served with tonic, so you will be adding in a dot of sugar, but you’ll still have a drink with less sugar than a glass of white wine.
Read more about it here
Seedlip – The Art of Distillation https://www.seedlipdrinks.com