Diageo increases ownership of alcohol-free start-up Seedlip

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Seedlip’s Ben Branson: ‘We want to change the way the world drinks’
Seedlip’s Ben Branson: ‘We want to change the way the world drinks’

Related tags Drinks

Drinks giant Diageo has ramped up its start-up support programme by acquiring a majority stake in Seedlip, the “world’s first” distilled non-alcoholic spirit.

Launched by Ben Branson in 2015 to solve the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’, Seedlip operates from a farm near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Branson will remain actively involved as a shareholder and director working alongside Diageo.

The company’s three spirits – Spice 94, Garden 108 and Grove 42 – are stocked in more than 7,500 bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers globally. The brand is listed in the majority of The World’s 50 Best Bars​ and more than 300 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Minority investment in 2016

In June 2016, Seedlip announced a minority investment from the Diageo-backed accelerator programme Distill Ventures. The independently run Distill Ventures receives funding from Diageo to support entrepreneurs as they launch and grow innovative drinks brands.

Seedlip is the first non-alcoholic brand acquired by Diageo through Distill Ventures.

Branson said he founded the business to change how drinks were consumed, while continuing his family’s 320-year-old farming legacy.

He said: “We want to change the way the world drinks and today’s news is another big step forward to achieving this. Distill Ventures’ and Diageo’s shared belief in our vision has enabled us to build a business that’s ready for scale, and I’m excited to continue working with Diageo to lead this movement.”

‘Game-changing’ drinks brand

John Kennedy, president for Europe, Turkey and India at Diageo, said Seedlip was a “game-changing brand”​ in one of the most exciting drinks categories.

“Ben is an outstanding entrepreneur and has created a brand that has truly raised the bar for the category,”​ Kennedy said. “We’re thrilled to continue working with him to grow what we believe will be a global drinks giant of the future.”

Shilen Patel, co-founder and non-alcoholic lead at Distill Ventures, said: “It has been a privilege to collaborate with an entrepreneur as inspiring as Ben in launching Seedlip and we look forward to watching Seedlip continue to thrive around the world.

“Supporting the vision of founders is what Distill Ventures was set up to do, and we're proud of the impact Ben has had on our industry in such a short period of time.”

Distill Ventures has invested in more than 15 different drinks brands including German aperitif Belsazar, Danish whisky Stauning, Australian whisky Starward, and Westward, a American single malt distilled in Portland.

The Seedlip range

Seelip range

Seedlip takes inspiration from the 1651 book, The Art ofDistillation​, which detailed copper-pot distilled, non-alcoholic remedies. The range is served with tonics or non-alcoholic cocktails, has a back-bar life of six months and does not require refrigeration.

  • Seedlip Spice 94​ is an aromatic blend of individual bark, spice and citrus distillates.
  • Seedlip Garden 108 ​has green and floral notes created though individual copper pot distillates, including hand-picked peas and hay from the farm and traditional herbs such as spearmint, rosemary and thyme.
  • Grove 42​ is a citrus blend of copper-pot distillates including bitter orange, mandarin, blood orange, lemongrass, ginger, and lemon.

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