A drinks expert has launched a new UK drinks agency to meet the growing demand for premium and craft alcohol brands.

Paragon Brands, a joint venture by Chris Jones and wholesaler Hammonds of Knutsford, has been created to bring the ”best or most innovative premium drinks to the UK market” via Hammonds’ nationwide distribution base.

The new agency has been established by Jones, who has more than 22 years’ experience in the UK drinks industry having held senior roles at Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi Brown Forman and Catalyst Brands, where he held the role of commercial director. At Catalyst he was instrumental in developing brands such as Bottega Prosecco, Voss Water and Aperol Spritz.

Jones said: “Paragon Brands is a result of the contact and knowledge I have gained over many years in this sector. There are many exciting brands from around the world who are looking for partners in the UK who can nurture their brands, support their marketing and find them the right distribution channels. We can offer retailers and operators first options on some very special drinks with unique stories to tell.”

The spirits portfolio sees the introduction of the Naud Distilleries range of premium spirits, including Hidden Loot Super Premium Spiced Rum. From Sweden they have the country’s number ne cider, Herrljunga, and UK-based artisanal cider and liqueur from the Cranes cranberry brand. The beer portfolio includes two European brands: Moritz, the first beer to be brewed in Barcelona with a 160-year heritage and Castello, a premium Italian Beer brewed with the purest water, from one of Italy’s oldest breweries in the Dolomite Mountains.

Jonathan Hammond added: “When Chris and I began discussing the creation of Paragon Brands, it became clear there are a number of synergies that would benefit both businesses including a passion to bring the best or most innovative premium drinks to the UK drinks market. Hammonds have a proud 60-year history of supplying high-end spirits and wines to some of the UK’s best on-trade and retail outlets so the partnership with Paragon Brands will further enhance our portfolio.”