Diageo’s drinks development entrepreneur programme Distill Ventures has invested in non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, acquiring a minority stake in the business.
Distill will mentor and support brand founder Ben Branson to help Seedlip build sales and marketing and achieve growth beyond the UK.
Seedlip, which launched in late 2015, was billed as the solution to the problem of what to drink when you’re not drinking. The company had to quadruple production in early 2016 after stocks sold out several times. A second expression inspired by the English countryside, called Seedlip Garden 108, launched in May.
This is the first time Distill Ventures has backed a non-alcoholic product since launching on 2013.
Helen Michels, global innovation director at Diageo, said: 'We are hugely excited to confirm our investment, through Distill Ventures, in Seedlip.
'We recognise the opportunity of non-alcoholic drinks and our portfolio already includes Guinness Zero in Indonesia, Guinness Malta in Africa and more recently Orijin Zero in Nigeria. We continue to explore and invest in this area and, in Seedlip, we have found a unique product which gives people a complex and refined drinking experience.
'Now in its third year, the Distill Ventures programme continues to allow us to discover and support new brands within pioneering categories, anticipate shifts in consumer behaviour and ensure our business remains at the forefront of trends in the years to come.'
Branson said: 'With Seedlip we’re effectively developing a new drinks category, appealing to consumers looking for a refined alternative to alcohol. This really was pioneering work and partnering with Distill Ventures has helped me understand the industry, shape the product I dreamed of, and launch it in the right way.'
To date, Distill Ventures has worked with a range of drinks brands, including Stauning Whisky in Denmark and Starward Whisky in Australia.
Shilen Patel, co-founder and CEO of Distill Ventures, added: 'Seedlip is led by an outstanding entrepreneur shaping the future of a whole new category in drinks. More bars and restaurants want to offer high quality non-alcoholic options as part of their range and Seedlip gives them a great option to do that.'