Diageo has invested in Rheinland Distillers GmbH, the maker of Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin and creator of the alcohol-free alternative Siegfried Wonderleaf.

The investment – via the independent accelerator Distill Ventures – will help drive growth of Rheinland Distillers and the Siegfried brand. In addition to the investment,the Siegfried founders will also gain access to Distill Venture’s acceleration programme. 

The Siegfried story started in 2014 when Raphael Vollmar and Gerald Koenen – two long-time friends who shared a passion for gin – wanted to rethink and disrupt the gin category. With 4,000 Euros of their own, they founded their company which today produces Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin and non-alcoholic alternative, Siegfried Wonderleaf.

Rheinland Distillers caught the attention of Distill Ventures with its unique offer of both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic product under one brand.

Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin is a classic handcrafted dry gin with signature linden blossom notes. The brand is reported to have joined the top league of German independent gins within a very short time, and it has received a raft of awards.

In August 2018, Rheinland Distillers launched the first German non-alcoholic alternative, Siegfried Wonderleaf, to cater to a growing demand for choice in drinks. Wonderleaf combines the same 18 botanicals as Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin, with an allspice aroma profile.

Founded in London in 2013, Distill Ventures claims it is the world’s first independent drinks accelerator, with the mission to support entrepreneurs as they start and scale drinks brands for future generations of consumers. Siegfried is the first brand with both an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic product to join the company’s growing portfolio of international non-alcoholic brands, which make up 25% of the entire portfolio.

Raphael Vollmar, Managing Director of Rheinland Distillers GmbH, said: “At the beginning, we asked ourselves how far we, as people from outside the industry, would be able to go in such a competitive market with a handcrafted product, 4,000 Euros, hard work and a lot of passion. With today’s step, we are answering this question for ourselves and are delighted to be able to carry the Siegfried brand and the associated attitude to life even further into the world than we ever dreamed possible.”

Gerald Koenen, Managing Director of Rheinland Distillers GmbH, said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved in the last five years. As we look to further growth, we are delighted to work with Diageo and Distill Ventures to access invaluable knowledge and expertise whilst continuing to operate as an independent business.”

Frank Lampen, Co-Founder and chief executive officer, Distill Ventures, said: “It is a great pleasure for us to have Rheinland Distillers on board as the first producer in the portfolio of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic spirits. It was the passion, innovation and obsession with quality that we saw in Raphael and Gerald which drew us to their brand.

“Their success story shows precisely where the future of spirits lies: consumers come first and they want the freedom of choice whether with or without alcohol. We look forward to working with Gerald and Raphael to take the Siegfried brand to the next level, imagining a future world of spirits together.”

Elizabeth Brown, Group Strategy Director at Diageo, said: “Siegfried run a digital-first business model, offering great consumer choice with both an award-winning gin and a non-alcoholic alternative. We are thrilled that they have joined the Distill Ventures portfolio and look forward to supporting Raphael and Gerald on accelerating the Siegfried business.”

As is customary with all companies that work with Distill Ventures, the founders of Rheinland Distillers will retain majority ownership, with Diageo holding a minority stake. Raphael Vollmar and Gerald Koenen will continue to control the business as the company expands.