The BBC show in the UK has been broadcasting since January 2005. It allows several entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their varying business ideas to a panel of five wealthy investors, the “Dragons” of the show’s title, and pitch for financial investment while offering a stake of the company in return. But who were the alcohol drinks brands that stepped up to the Den?
Series 18 is currently airing in the UK in 2021 and I will try and add any drinks brands as they appear on the show…
Tom Hurst came into the Dragon’s Den looking for a £25,000 in exchange for a 2% share of his premium rum business, Rockstar Spirits, in episode 11 of season 18. He managed to secure Tej Lalvani and Touker Suleyman by conceding a higher share of 8% split between the two dragons.
Owner Deborah Lockhart was looking for £50,000 in exchange for a 10% share of her business, a company specialising in upmarket organic, fair-trade products with environmentally conscious packaging. Her product range includes tea, coffee, hand-sanitizer and gin. She asked the Dragons for £50,000 in exchange for a 10% share but left the den without the investment. Since appearing on Dragon’s Den, the company has rebranded as Naked & Noble.
Entrepreneurs Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson secured a £75,000 investment from Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani in episode 7 of season 18, for their whisky pouch subscription club, Whisky Me.
Kate Darracott and her husband and co-owner Graham Darracott appeared on episode 6 of season 18 and although they left the den with some new customers, no investment was forthcoming from the dragons. For any drinks brands wanting to take part in the programme, they have also created a blog post on ‘How to apply to be on Dragon’s Den‘.
Established in October 2019 by two Scottish brothers, Double Trouble Drinks made a brief appearance during episode 3 of season 18. This family run drinks company targets the darts community and were not able to secure any investment from the dragons.
The Genius Brewing team of Charlie Craig and Jason Clarke pitched their low calorie, light craft lager to the Dragons in episode 2 of series 18. The craft beer entrepreneurs were seeking £120,000 of equity funding to expand their Glasgow-based business and they managed to receive an offer from dragon Tej Lalvani, who wanted more equity than they were willing to concede.
Former village pub landlord Paul Stanley, failed to secure investment from the Dragons in episode 1 of series 17 for his Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum. The product is made with rum from Guyana and Trinidad and is produced in Chorley. It is a blend of rum made from the wooden pot still at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana where it is part aged in bourbon casks and caramelised, and blended with a lighter column still rum from Trinidad. Then infused with a mysterious concoction of natural spices, including cloves, star anise and cassia bark.
“I got bored of selling, cheap mass marketed corporate rum with a fake Caribbean history and standard vanilla flavourings, so I decided to make my own.” Paul Stanley
“After years of experimentation in the George and Dragon’s kitchen the concoction evolved until finally I felt inspired enough to go to market. Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum was launched at Rumfest in London back in October 2016 and now it’s become the fastest growing spiced rum in the UK. The feedback was amazing and since then sales have rocketed”
The twins Daniel and Ben pitched their Cranes cider and cranberry Gin drinks business for investment on episode 5 of Dragons Den series 17.
Cranes Drinks launched in 2012, began as a part-time venture by the brothers. Their product portfolio includes; a range of 4% alcoholic ciders; a hand-crafted Cranes Cranberry and Blood Orange Liqueur and most recently, their Cranes Cranberry Gin.
“To start the business in 2012, we used our own savings which came from the gardening business we had set up. To help aid the growth of the business and our core product lines we set up our first wave of crowdfunding in 2016.” Dan Ritsema
The brand was founded in 2017 by Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton (pictured above) and secured £75,000 investment for 33.3% of their business from Hyde-born businesswoman Jenny Campbell.
“Didsbury Gin is all about Mark and Liam. They instantly drew me in with their charm and I thought this could work. I also went to school in Didsbury so I thought that was a good omen! They knew their product and the numbers behind the business, they stood their ground when my fellow Dragons attacked and most importantly I liked them.” Jenny Campbell
Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick (pictured above), co-founders of brand owner Young in Spirit, secured £50,000 investment for 30% of their business from Tej Lalvani, the CEO of vitamin giant Vitabiotics and Touker Suleyman, fashion retail entrepreneur and investor.
Scottish entrepreneur Stuart Ingram (pictured above) accepted a £80,000 offer on the programme for 10% equity in his business from business tycoon Peter Jones, but later decided to walk away from the potential deal.
The company’s managing director Peter Smith (pictured above) moved to Spain in the mid-90’s and pitched his company to Dragon’s Den including the food side of the business, all of the products contain Tiger Nuts. This means the liquor is dairy, lactose, gluten and nut-free (note tiger nut is not actually a nut despite the name!) and perfect for lactose intolerant/vegan nut allergy sufferers who can’t have vegan Baileys as it contains almond milk.
Peter was looking for a £100k investment in his company and although he did not secured the funding, he gained invaluable advice from the Dragons and decided to focus solely on the liqueurs side of the business going forward.
German co-founders and tea mixologists Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia (pictured above) were drawn to the Brits’ passion for tea and alcohol. NOVELTEA takes the finest tea leaves and spirits from across the globe to produce the finest blends imaginable. It’s traditional tea with a twist.
Three Dragons offered £80,000 for 30% stake in their business which was rejected by the duo. Days after the show they completed a crowdfunding campaign which raised a whopping £342,000 for roughly 9%, giving their company a valuation of around £3.8m.
Co-founders Jon Hulme and John Burke (pictured above) secured an investment of £75,000 for a 12.5% stake from Sarah Willingham in their subscription box service business delivering monthly artisan gins and sparkling wines, along with snacks and magazines, to subscribers.
Managing director Jo Hilditch turned down offers of £50,000 from three of the Dragons in the BBC series Dragon’s Den, who each wanted a 30% – 40% stake in the company. It has also been relaunched under the auspices of parent company White Heron Brands.
Rocktails Frozen Vodka Cocktails (2012)
Naomi Kibble, and Helen McAvoy of Rocktails (pictured below) walked away from an offer of £80,000 for a 40% stake in the business offered by Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne, back in 2012. However, I could not find information on the brand and products except for the Alcohol-free products from Rocktails.
For Frozen cocktails, see the Inside the Blog post: It’s Summer…time for a frozen cocktail?
James Nash’s idea of a single-serve plastic glass of French wine with a tear-off lid was dismissed by the Dragons back in 2009. He was looking for a £250k investment for a 25% stake in his business. However, the product was later picked up by M&S and went on to experience growth and success.
If I have missed any drinks brands featured on the show – please let me know by contacting me!