Launched in 2016, Nao Spirits is an emerging botanical infused gin company, and Diageo sees the brand as well-placed to embrace the fast-growing premium gin category in India. The brand also has distribution in the UK, Italy, Hungary and Singapore.
Upon completion of the INR 31.5 crores investment, United Spirits Limited (Diageo India) will hold 22.5% of the equity share capital of the company on a fully diluted basis and a call option to acquire the remaining shares.
Launched by Anand Virmani, Nao’s two brands use botanicals sourced from India and beyond.
Greater Than London Dry Gin is described as the only London Dry Gin made in India; and is copper pot distilled with nine botanicals from India and around the world.
Awarded gold at the Asian Gin Masters Awards 2021 and silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards 2018, Greater Than can be used with cocktails and Gin & Tonic.
Luxury gin Hapusa is made with foraged Himalayan Juniper and unique botanicals such as fresh turmeric, Gondhoraj peel and raw mango which are native to India, to create a ‘bold and earthy gin’. Hapusa has been awarded gold at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2021, UK and double gold at the SIP Awards 2020, USA.
Emerging craft gin sector in India
Diageo India says its investment will allow it to strengthen its participation in the fast-growing premium gin segment in India: noting that demand for local and authentic craft-oriented brands is increasing.
Hina Nagarajan, MD and CEO, Diageo India, said: “As a company built from founder-led brands, we are excited to make our first move in India to support bold and path-breaking entrepreneurs. Over the last three years, the Indian market has witnessed the emergence of multiple craft gin players and Nao Spirits has been a game changer in the category.
"Our team is deeply committed to supporting Anand Virmani, Aparajita Ninan & Abhinav Rajput, who will continue to run the business, to deliver Nao’s vision of placing Indian craft gin amongst the world’s most coveted craft spirits."
Anand Virmani, co-founder and CEO of Nao Spirits & Beverages, added: “This investment is a validation of the hard work, creativity, grit and passion of our team. As we look to chart the next phase of growth of Nao Spirits, the investment from Diageo India will help scale our business, improve efficiencies, and access mentorship from an industry leader, which will be immensely valuable.”
The investment will be funded through Diageo India’s internal cash resources.