Diageo’s Distill Ventures has been watching the consumer demand in the non-alcohol beverage market grow. According to a white paper they put together over the last three years they found that 61% of consumers want better choice when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, while 58% are drinking more no and low ABV drinks than in previous years.
Ritual Zero Proof is a spirit alternative distilled in the United States that echoes the taste and smell of spirits. The company has announced a minority investment from global beverage alcohol leader Diageo via Distill Ventures. The investment is expected to drive Ritual’s growth by investing in its direct-to-consumer business and supporting its entry into retail. Alongside the cash investment, the Ritual founders will be able to access the support of Distill Ventures’ dedicated non-alcoholic drinks practice in developing the business over the coming years.
Ritual Zero Proof was founded in Chicago by Marcus Sakey, GG Sakey and David Crooch. Ritual says the meet the growing consumer demand for a complex, flavorful and interesting alternative for people who are choosing not to drink.
“This is a movement,” said Marcus Sakey, founding partner and chief brand officer of Ritual Zero Proof. “Just like almond milk and veggie burgers, spirit alternatives are changing the landscape. 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 flavor, 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.”
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Distiller Ventures 1st Non-Alcoholic Brand in the U.S.
Ritual is the first public non-alcoholic brand from the United States to join Distiller Ventures growing portfolio of international non-alcoholic brands, which make up 25% of the entire portfolio. Distill Ventures is active in both traditional spirits categories and emerging drinks categories across Europe, Asia and North America.
“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 look forward to working closely with Ritual’s team to unlock growth as, together, we shape the global non-alcoholic drinks landscape and continue to provide consumers with a broad array of choices when seeking out their drinks.”
“We are excited to support such an interesting new brand in the vibrant non-alcoholic space,” said Eugene Khabensky, Ventures Director, Diageo. “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.”
As is customary with all companies that work with Distill Ventures, the founders and current investors of Ritual will retain majority ownership, with Diageo holding a minority stake. They will continue to run the business independently as the company continues to expand.
Financial details of the Distill Ventures and Ritual Zero Proof were not released.
Non-alcoholic? Okay. So, umm… why?
Here’s an excerpt from Ritual Zero Proof’s FAQ page that helps to put this in perspective.
“Because choices are great. Because there are lots of ways to mark a moment. Because you’ve had two cocktails and want to stay out, but have **** to do tomorrow. Because you don’t feel like piling on the calories. Because you can mix it with liquor for low-ABV cocktails. Because there’s a baby in your belly. Because you’re training for a marathon but don’t want to give up your evening ritual. Because you should be able to enjoy something better than club soda.”
And here some additional insight on the category from Distiller Ventures Heidi Dillon Otto.