Diageo, via its investment arm Distill Ventures, has announced it has taken a minority stake in Ritual Zero Proof, the first spirit alternative distilled in North America.

The investment will help drive Ritual’s growth in the U.S., 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.

Founded in Chicago by best friends Marcus Sakey, GG Sakey, and David Crooch, Ritual meets growing consumer demand for sophisticated non-alcoholic alternatives.

Intended for use in cocktails, Ritual can be swapped 1:1 with traditional spirits to make non-alcoholic versions of classic recipes. Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative mirrors the familiar flavor of gin with cucumber, juniper berries, mint and basil; while the whiskey alternative is warm with notes of oak and vanilla.

When it launched in September, Ritual sold out of its projected six month supply of product in just five weeks.

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.

Marcus Sakey, founding partner and chief brand officer of Ritual Zero Proof, said: “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.”

Founded in London in 2013, Distill Ventures is the world’s first independent drinks accelerator, with the mission to support entrepreneurs who are establishing and scaling brands.

According to a 2019 Distill Ventures study, 58% of consumers are drinking more no-and low-abv drinks than last year, and 55% of the most influential bartenders in New York, Los Angeles and London believe the no-and low-alcohol trend will continue to grow within the next 12 months.

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