Diageo decants £15m into new scheme for spirits start-ups

Kasmira Jefford
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DIAGEO, the world’s largest drinks company, is to pour up to £15m of investment into a new joint venture with agency Independents United to help fledgling spirits businesses.

The FTSE 100 firm, which created its premium Ciroc vodka brand from scratch, said Distill Ventures is the first scheme to provide seed-funding for start-ups in the spirits industry. The venture will select five entrepreneurs in November to receive initial seed funding of up to £200,000 each. It will then make up to £2m of funding available to each business next year as part of the growth programme.

Diageo will provide start-ups with the funding and advice on areas such as marketing and development while Distill Ventures will manage day-to-day operations.

The firm has been focussing on fast-growing premium brands as consumers indulge in affordable luxuries. The scheme will allow Diageo to potentially discover new and innovative premium spirits brands to invest in and grow.

Today, the firm will raise a glass to the launch of a chocolate version of Baileys Irish Cream, which is on sale in Harvey Nichols ahead of a wider launch in October.