Diageo gains stake in Indian gin maker Nao Spirits

The Indian branch of Diageo has acquired a minority stake in Nao Spirits, producer of gins Greater Than and Hapusa, for INR 31.5 crores (US$4.1 million).

Through the deal, Diageo will hold 22.5% of the gin company’s equity share capital.

The Johnnie Walker owner will also have a call option to purchase the remaining shares in the business on pre-agreed terms.

Nao Spirits was founded in 2016 by Anand Virmani. The firm’s Greater Than Gin is made using nine Indian botanicals, while its Hapusa Gin contains botanicals including foraged Himalayan juniper, fresh turmeric, gondhoraj peel and raw mango.

“We are delighted to partner with a company like Diageo which has supported craft spirits brands,” Virmani commented.

“This investment is a validation of the hard work, creativity, grit and passion of our team. As we look to chart the next phase of growth of Nao Spirits, the investment from Diageo India will help scale our business, improve efficiencies, and access mentorship from an industry leader, which will be immensely valuable.”

Diageo India said the move is an ‘opportunity to strengthen its participation’ in the country’s growing premium gin segment, as drinkers seek out local and ‘craft-oriented’ products.

“As a company built from founder-led brands, we are excited to make our first move in India to support bold and path-breaking entrepreneurs,” stated Hina Nagarajan, MD and CEO, Diageo India.

“Over the last three years, the Indian market has witnessed the emergence of multiple craft gin players and Nao Spirits has been a game changer in the category. Our team is deeply committed to supporting Anand Virmani, [Nao Spirits director] Aparajita Ninan and [chief operating officer] Abhinav Rajput, who will continue to run the business, to deliver Nao’s vision of placing Indian craft gin amongst the world’s most coveted craft spirits.”

Last week, Diageo revealed plans to build a CA$245m (US$190.96m) carbon-neutral distillery in Ontario, Canada for its Crown Royal whisky brand.

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Author: Kate Malczewski