Former Hi-Spirits boss Hill joins Proof Drinks team

Drinks brand owner and distributor Proof Drinks has appointed Jeremy Hill, founder and former chairman of Sazerac-owned Hi-Spirits, as managing director.

Hill is joining Proof founders James McDermott and Paul Ferguson in its senior management team and has taken an equity stake in the business.

Proof owns and distributes Cazcabel tequila and Cut Rum, and distributes brands including Swedish craft beer Pistonhead and coca leaf liqueur Agwa De Bolivia. 

Hill said: “I’d always planned to return to the drinks sector once my non-compete agreement [with Sazerac] expired.

“I’d been following what James and Paul have been doing with Proof Drinks, and I see a lot of similarities between Proof and Hi-Spirits in the early days. It's my mission to help the guys position Proof as the UK’s leading independent drinks agency.

“The fact that we have such a diverse portfolio of brands enables us to have interesting conversations with both existing and potential customers across the on-trade and off-trade.

“Proof has demonstrated that it is able to create and grow its own brands too, at the same time as adding value for its partners.
“Cazcabel is already a category leader in terms of its growth rate, while the recent launch of Cut shows that Proof can create differentiated products even in the most competitive categories.

"As I’ve always maintained innovation is the lifeblood of the drinks sector and that will continue to be our focus.

“There are many opportunities out there, both established and evolving, and we will ensure that we have the right fit within the Proof Drinks portfolio.”

McDermott added: “We’re very proud of what Proof Drinks has achieved so far.

“We’ve seen double-digit sales growth each year, have always made a profit, and now employ 20 people.

“The opportunity to bring Jeremy’s knowledge and experience into play alongside our own will be invaluable as we continue to grow.”

Ferguson said: "We've seen Cazcabel become a 40,000 case a year brand in just four years, while with Pistonhead we were ahead of the curve on the craft beer market’s shift into cans.

“The drinks sector in hugely competitive, but there are always opportunities.”