Diageo has completed the acquisition of German vermouth manufacturer Belsazar for an undisclosed sum.
Belsazar is the first brand Diageo has formally acquired from its start-up accelerator Distill Ventures, who invested in Belsazar in 2014.
Distill Ventures was established in 2013 by Diageo to identify, invest in and accelerate the growth of promising drinks brands, and Diageo earmarked the acquisition of Belsazar due to the growing appetite for spirits which contain lower alcohol levels.
Belsazar’s vermouth features a blend of grapes, herbs and brandy, and is available in four varieties, white, red, dry and rosé.
Diageo claims that Belsazar has performed strongly in the UK and Germany, and the brand’s products are available from over 750 locations in Germany.
Maximilian Wagner, co-founder of Belsazar, said: “Today is the first day of an exciting new chapter for Belsazar as we integrate into Diageo’s portfolio of world-class brands.
“Our ambition right from the beginning in 2013 has been to share our aperitif with as many people as possible and we’re excited that this next step will help bring the spirit of Berlin to new consumers.”
Sebastian Brack, co-founder of Belsazar said: “Working with Distill Ventures these past few years has given us an invaluable base of knowledge and experience that we’ll undoubtedly call on as we continue to grow the business with Diageo in Europe.”
David Gates, Managing Director of Diageo Futures, said: “We are thrilled that Belsazar is joining our wonderful portfolio of brands. Diageo is the home of many founder-led brands from Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Guinness to newer brands like Bulleit.
“Partnering with entrepreneurs like Max and Sebastian, and nurturing the global drinks brands of the future is core to our strategy.
“It’s been very exciting to follow Belsazar’s development and we look forward to working to deliver the next phase of the brand’s growth.”
Frank Lampen, CEO and Global Head of Distill Ventures added “Belsazar was one of the first Distill Ventures investments and we’ve worked closely with the founders over the past four years.
“This first acquisition is therefore a very exciting moment for us, Diageo and the Belsazar team. Diageo have a great new brand and Max and Sebastian can continue to realise their vision for Belsazar with the full resources and expertise of the world’s largest drinks company.
“This success story is proof that venturing adds value to both corporates and entrepreneurs and we look forward to welcoming more great founders to Distill Ventures.”
Currently chief executive of GreenV – an international group of companies active in the horticultural sector – van Karnebeek spent a large portion of his career at Heineken, working in commercial, marketing and general management positions. He served as chief commercial officer at the Dutch brewer from 2015 until 2021.
The facility combines the existing Kerry office in Barcelona with a new customer suite and application labs. It will enable the company to work more closely with its customers in Southern Europe to develop food and beverage solutions.
The sweet and culinary flavor creation labs are the latest addition to the company’s expansive campus that has been in operation since 1964, spanning more than 312,150 square feet in Brabrand, Denmark. The innovation hub is home to more than 400 employees engaged in research, application development, ingredient and flavor creation.