Scottish Enterprise and Scotmid Coop invest in premium drinks company
With the ambition of developing the world’s most sought after portfolio of Hard Seltzers (alcoholic flavoured waters), a cross functional team of experienced drinks industry entrepreneurs founded The Alcoholic Water Company in late 2019.
The new company is a collaboration between Glasgow-based innovation facility The Start-Up Drinks Lab and drinks-marketing agency London-based Whitelabel Group.
The Hard Seltzer start up brings together the skills required to launch new brands within three months. Internal functions include sales, marketing, export, accountancy, liquid development and manufacturing, giving the team a unique combined strength against the competition.
The four individuals who founded the company have all previously established, award winning drink businesses in their own right. These include the founders of Glasgow based craft drink manufacturing facility The Start-Up Drinks Lab (Craig Strachan and Hannah Fisher) who have partnered with the founders of Whitelabel Group (Drew Shannon and Greg Saunders) - who own specialist drinks-marketing businesses in UK and USA [Warp & Woof and Sidecar, respectively]
The foursome have just secured a six figure investment raise from both Scotmid Coop and Scottish Enterprise, who saw not only the future growth in this emerging category, but the value in expertise that each of the founders bring, following their collective 75 years’ experience in the premium drinks industry. Nick Baxter has also joined the team in July as UK Head of Sales and brings over 15 years’ experience across multiple channels in the industry for Coca Cola, Britvic and most recently Jägermeister
Purchasing a minority stake are Edinburgh based retail chain Scotmid Coop. UK grocery network but will also provide mentoring and support to the founders They bring off trade expertise from their UK grocery network, but will also provide mentoring and business support to the founders.
John Brodie CEO at Scotmid Coop said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the founders to establish this Start Up. They bring not only experience but drive and passion to the brand. We can see from our retail insight that this is a fast growing sector of the market and there are opportunities to establish a brand at the premium end.”
Also investing in this initial round are Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency.
Jan Robertson, Interim Director of Growth Investments at Scottish Enterprise, said: “The founders’ industry experience and entrepreneurial vision has seen them recognise and quickly capitalise on a great opportunity in the drinks market. This investment will help them build on their solid start by supporting the growth of their footprint in the UK and overseas.”
Hard Seltzers (alcoholic, flavoured water) have dominated the US drinks market since 2016, experiencing unprecedented growth due to its popularity with consumers as a refreshing alcoholic drink that is low in calories and lighter in alcohol strength. The phenomenon has now landed in the UK and is poised to be the next big trend. The UK hard seltzer market value is currently £10.4m and based on its growth, the potential market value is estimated at £75m by 2023.
Hannah Fisher, Managing Director at The Alcoholic Water Company said: “We have had a strong start, securing luxury listings with both Harrods and Caviar House & Prunier along with exposure in international markets including Scandinavia and Spain. This seed investment will support our ambitious growth plans including extending our presence in UK grocers, expanding internationally and cementing our commitment to a better future for all through achieving our B-Corp accreditation."
The company has launched its first brand, Lilo, which is an elevated, premium Hard Seltzer. Lilo is crafted to be lighter in calories (50 calories) and lower in alcohol (3.5% ABV), only using natural ingredients, soft Scottish water and their bespoke botanical spirits, distilled by an award-winning distiller.
In the short few months since launch, Lilo Hard Seltzer has already picked up two awards for taste, winning Masters and Gold Awards in The Spirit Business Hard Seltzer Masters. Available at www.lilodrinks.com