Diageo invests in US non-alcoholic spirits company

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Ritual Zero Proof will use the investment to expand outside of Chicago.
Ritual Zero Proof will use the investment to expand outside of Chicago.

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Diageo has made a minority investment in American non-alcoholic spirits company, Ritual Zero Proof.

Crafted for use in cocktails, Ritual can be swapped with traditional spirits to make non-alcoholic versions of classic recipes. The company was founded by three friends in Chicago and launched its two flagship products – a gin alternative and a whiskey alternative – in September 2019.

Diageo is making a minority investment in the company via its Distill Ventures unit, its accelerator for new and growing brands. One of Distill’s early investments was in pioneering non-alcoholic spirits brand Seedlip in 2015; and around 25% of the unit’s investments are in non-alcoholic beverages. Ritual, however, is the first public non-alcoholic brand from the US to join Distill’s non-alcoholic portfolio.

Retail plans

Retail Zero Proof’s products are available in local Chicago retailers, bars and Michelin-starred restaurants as well as via Amazon and its own website. When it launched in September, Ritual sold out of its projected six-month supply of product in its first five weeks. 

According to a 2019 Distill Ventures data study, 58% of consumers are drinking more no-and low-abv drinks than last year, and 55% of the most influential bartenders in New York, Los Angeles and London believe the no-and low-alcohol trend will continue to grow within the next 12 months.

“In 18 months, we predict non-alcoholic options will be on every menu and the shelves of every grocery store,”​ said Marcus Sakey, founding partner and chief brand officer of Ritual Zero Proof. “Americans want more choice, and Ritual Zero Proof is all about more – more flavor, more moments, more life, that is. It's the only American-made spirit alternative to echo the taste, smell and burn of a spirit – without the alcohol or calories."

The Distill investment will support the brand’s move into retail; as well as help drive its growth across the US in its direct-to-consumer business. The founders and current investors of Ritual will retain majority ownership and continue to run the business independently. 

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