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Happy new year to all Purple Pagers – and apologies in advance that this week’s Wine of the week is not in fact a wine.
I am feeling buoyed by higher-than-usual hopes for an abstinent start to the year. I’ve belatedly discovered Seedlip, a genuinely tasty, dry, grown-up alternative to alcohol, produced in the north of England. If you too have abstemious ambitions for January then this non-alcoholic non-wine might also be for you.
Seedlip is a non-alcoholic spirit – a spirit in the broader sense of the word, ie a distillate. It’s made by distilling individual botanicals/flavours (in this instance, peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme) and blending them into a final elixir. It is dry and medicinal tasting and contains no sugar (aiding another new year’s resolution) so it isn’t at all sweet, unlike most alcohol-free drinks.
It’s been described to me as ‘alcohol-free gin’. It’s not gin though – for a start there’s no juniper in it (juniper must legally be the dominant flavour in gin) so it doesn’t taste like gin. Also ‘alcohol-free gin’ sounds to me like gin with the alcohol stripped out, which this isn’t. It’s a spirit or distillate of botanicals, but not of alcohol. It is meant to accompany tonic though. I’d call it gin-esque – it’s produced (sans alcohol), packaged and priced like a craft gin. It's also fronted by a suitably bearded hipster.
I’ve never had an enjoyable alcohol-free wine; either they are sickly sweet from all that unfermented sugar, or they’ve had the alcohol stripped out – and with it everything else of consequence. Some alcohol-free beers are OK if you don't mind drinking Weetabix, and ’soft’ drinks are invariably sweet. There is definitely a gap in the market for grown-up alcohol-free drinks and it’s this gap that Seedlip seeks to fill.
There are two varieties of Seedlip: Garden 108, which is what I’m drinking (and is on the left in the picture above), and also Spice 94 (on the right in the picture, containing all-spice, cardamom, oak, lemon, grapefruit and cascarilla – an aromatic bark that I’d not heard of before), which I’ve not yet tried.
To me this is a delicious, adults-only drink that still counts as a treat at the end of the day – and I find myself pouring one after another.
I know, it’s only five days in to the new year, but so far, so good.
Wine-searcher (which does not seem to confine itself to wine) lists Seedlip as widely available in the UK from Amazon, Ocado, Lea & Sandeman and many independents. You can also buy it directly from Seedlip with £5 off for Dry January. Wine-searcher also lists stockists in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland and France as well as Hong Kong and the USA.