By Andy Young
Diageo, through its funding program Distill Ventures, has invested in Seedlip, a British company which produces non-alcoholic distilled drinks.
Set up last year by entrepreneur Ben Branson, Seedlip currently has two varieties and Branson is hoping the investment will help him to produce more varieties and expand outside the UK.
Branson said that Diageo’s support was a “huge statement of credibility for us,” adding, “We don’t want to be small. The problem of what to drink when you do not want to drink [alcohol] is not small. We’ve got big plans and scary dreams.”
Helen Michels, global innovation director, futures team for Diageo, said: “We are hugely excited to confirm our investment, through Distill Ventures, in Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. Seedlip is a company of exceptional quality with a visionary founder offering a ‘sophisticated alternative’ to alcoholic drinks.
“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."
Shilen Patel, co-founder of Distill Ventures, added: “We first met Ben two years ago, and as his ideas on Seedlip developed, it seemed increasingly obvious to us that this would be a great addition to the portfolio and we’re delighted that Ben felt the same way about joining the programme. 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.
“Seedlip made sense because it was founded by a pioneering entrepreneur it and follows a model that is in many respects close to a spirits brand. We continue to be led by a desire to invest in outstanding founders, and our emphasis will remain firmly on alcoholic drinks.”