Diageo has made its first foray into the non-alcoholic spirits sector by investing in a brand called Seedlip.

The drinks giant has announced that its Distill Ventures unit, which backs entrepreneurs and start-ups, has taken a stake in the Seedlip brand.

Helen Michels, global innovation director of Diageo’s Futures Team, 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.

“For generations, Diageo has been innovating and meeting consumer trends by offering new products, formats and ingredients. Now in its third year, the Distill Ventures programme continues to allow us to discover and support new brands within pioneering categories, anticipate shifts in consumer behaviour and ensure our business remains at the forefront of trends in the years to come.”

Shilen Patel, co-founder of Distill Ventures said: “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.”
Seedlip, created by entrepreneur Ben Branson, is distilled with herbs, spices and other ingredients. Branson developed the drink to solve the problem of what to drink when you don’t wish to drink alcohol.

Seedlip launched in November last year and already has listings with a number of retailers and restaurants around the UK, including Berry Bros & Rudd, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in London.

The drink, which is priced at £27.99 for a 70cl bottle, is available in two flavours: Seedlip Spice 94, which is a blend of individual copper-pot distillates, including two barks, two spices and two citrus peels. Seedlip Garden 108 is a blend of copper-pot distillates including handpicked peas and hay from Branson’s family farm, along with traditional herbs such as rosemary and thyme. Both variants are intended to be served long with tonic water.