A bit of news out of Diageo and the drinks brand incubator, Distill Ventures. German entrepreneurs Maximillian Wagner and Sebastian Brack are likely toasting with more than a few glasses of their aperitif from the Black Forest.
Diageo this week announced the acquisition of Belsazar GmbH, a premium aperitif from Germany’s Black Forest. Belsazar was launched by entrepreneurs Maximillian Wagner and Sebastian Brack on the Berlin food and drinks scene in 2013. Belsazar is the first company to be acquired by Diageo through Distill Ventures.
Belsazar provides Diageo with an opportunity to strengthen its participation in the aperitif occasion and expand the brand across Europe. As consumers shift towards more casual occasions, demand for lower ABV cocktails and long drinks are increasing and Belsazar fits this occasion perfectly.
The acquisition is also an important milestone for Distill Ventures, the drinks industry’s first accelerator for new and growing spirits brands. Since its launch in 2013, Distill Ventures has significantly grown its portfolio and expanded into North America. Independently run, Distill Ventures receives funding from Diageo, and draws on industry expertise and professional networks, to identify, invest in and accelerate aspiring drinks brands.
Belsazar joined Distill Ventures in 2014 and has performed strongly in its key markets, Germany and the UK. The brand’s heartland is Germany, where it is available in over 750 on – trade outlets as of summer 2017. These include gastronomy bars, Michelin starred restaurants, biergardens and smaller restaurants where people are looking for light, long drinks with food. In the UK, it is available in a number of on – trade locations including Soho House, Hakkasan and Chiltern Firehouse.
Belsazar is made from selected grapes including Pinot Noir among others from South Baden right at the edge of the Black Forest, in fused with herbs to give it a unique natural character, and finished with a dash of fruit brandy. The liquid is then aged for up to three months, allowing it to develop its range of complex aromas. There are four Belsazar varieties: white, red, dry and its signature rosé. Belsazar was created to be enjoyed as an aperitif served with tonic and as part of classic and modern cocktails. It was named one of IWSR’s Top Ten brands to watch in the Radius 2018 report.
Belsazar’s founders Maximilian Wagner and Sebastian Brack will remain actively involved, working with Diageo to ensure the brand’s future success. Belsazar will sit within Diageo’s Reserve portfolio and will benefit from this team’s marketing and distribution expertise to accelerate the brand’s European footprint.