Global alcoholic beverages company Diageo has completed its acquisition of Belsazar, a vermouth aperitif brand from Germany’s Black Forest, for an undisclosed amount.

This acquisition marks the first by Diageo through Distill Ventures, the world’s first drinks industry accelerator for new and growing spirits brands created in 2013 by Diageo as a way for it to identify and invest in promising brands.

Distill Ventures operates independently from Diageo, but Diageo is its sole investor and has the option to buy the industry accelerator outright at any point.

The Belsazar acquisition is linked to Diageo’s desire to strengthen its participation in the aperitif and low alcohol by volume spirits markets.

Belsazar was founded by Maximillian Wagner and Sebastian Brack in 2013. It joined Distill Ventures in 2014 to help it strengthen its performance across its key markets, the UK and Germany. It was named one of International Wine and Spirits Record’s top ten brands to watch in the Radius 2018 report.

Diageo Futures managing director David Gates 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.”

The brand produces four varieties of vermouth; white, red, dry and rosé. The products are made from select grapes including Pinot Noir and others from the edge of the Black Forest, which are infused with herbs, finished with brandy and then aged for three months.

The vermouth aperitif was created to be enjoyed with tonic or as part of classic and modern cocktails.

Wagner 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.”

Distill Ventures CEO and global head Frank Lampen said: “This first acquisition is 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.”