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Diageo invests in US non-alcoholic drinks company

Liquor company Diageo has invested in US company Ritual Zero Proof, via independent drinks accelerator, Distill Ventures. The new deal will expand Ritual in the US and have access to Distill Ventures’ non-alcoholic drinks. It’s the first public non-alcoholic drink from the US to join the liquor giant’s international non-alcoholic brands.

Marcus Sakey, GG Sakey and David Crooch own Ritual which creates non-alcoholic versions of liquors. Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative mimics the taste of gin with cucumber, juniper berries, mint and basil, served with tonic. While the whiskey alternative has notes of oak and vanilla, the perfect match for orange and bitters.

“This is a movement. Just like almond milk and veggie burgers, spirit alternatives are changing the landscape,” Sakey said. “In 18 months, we predict non-alcoholic options will be on every menu and the shelves of every grocery store. Americans want more choice, and Ritual Zero Proof is all about more – more flavour, 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.”

According to a 2019 Distill Ventures data study, 58% of consumers drink low-ABV drinks than in 2018, and 55% of bartenders in New York, Los Angeles and London believe this non-alcoholic trend will continue to grow within the next 12 months. Google Trends reported that consumers mention “non-alcoholic” 81% more often compared to a year ago. Whole Foods named it as part of the top 10 food trends for 2020.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ritual Zero Proof and its seasoned team of drink entrepreneurs into the Distill Ventures portfolio as we build the future of non-alcoholic drinks, a category we have proudly supported since our investment in Seedlip back in 2015,” said Heidi Dillon Otto, portfolio director and non-alcoholic lead, Distill Ventures North America.

“We are excited to support such an interesting new brand in the vibrant non-alcoholic space,” Eugene Khabensky, Ventures director, Diageo, said. “We put the consumer at the heart of our business, and Ritual Zero Proof is a fantastic offering that provides consumers with more choices of the highest quality,”

Diageo said it will hold a minority stake while Ritual will retain majority ownership. It will continue to run the business independently. Ritual gin and whiskey alternatives are sold in major beverage retailers, bars and Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago. They are also available on the brand’s website and on Amazon.

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