The richest people in drinks: 2023
The number of billionaires in the UK may have fallen since last year, but the drinks world is well represented, according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2023.
This year’s expanded Sunday Times Rich list includes 350 individuals and families, which together hold a combined wealth of £796.459 billion.
We’ve picked out the wealthiest drinks companies from the list and detail how they made their fortunes, from inheriting a brewing giant to carving out a name for themselves in Bordeaux.
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken
Worth £13.122 billion
Ranked 8 on the list
De Carvalho-Heineken is the only daughter of Freddy Heineken, who died in 2002. She inherited roughly a quarter of Heineken’s shares and the power to overrule the brewing giant’s directors.
“I interpreted it as a calling. I feel like the keeper of a legacy, but that legacy is not mine. My responsibility is to keep it growing and then pass it on to the next generation,” she said.
Since de Carvalho-Heineken has taken over the reins of the family business, Heineken has acquired other brands, such as Distell and Namibia Breweries, and is now the second-largest brewer in the world (after Anheuser-Busch InBev).
The Amsterdam-based business owns Bulmers Cider, Tiger Beer, Red Stripe and Strongbow among many more drinks brands.
Heineken shares value the business at approximately £50 billion — three times what it was worth when de Carvalho-Heineken inherited her 23% stake in the business, which is now worth £11.5 billion, up £1.5 billion from a year ago.
In February 2023, Heineken announced a profit leap of 24%.
The De Cavalhos also have a 10% stake in Double Dutch Drinks, a London-based mixers brand.
The rising Heineken share price, a good run of dividends and other wealth should now take the De Carvalhos to more than £13 billion.
The Perrodo family / Château Labégorce
Worth £7 billion
Ranked 26 on the list
Oil and gas is the bedrock of the family’s £7 billion fortune. It owns Wytch Farm oil field in Dorset, which produces around 14,000 barrels of oil a day, as well as 45 offshore platforms, 14 subsea wells and 1,500 miles of pipeline connected to onshore terminals.
However, the family also owns premium Bordeaux winery Château Labégorce in Margaux, which it bought in 1989. The property’s 70-hectare vineyard includes vines aged up to 100 years old.
When the Porrodos first acquired Labégorce, their vision was to reunite three wine-producing estates that had been divided during the French Revolution.
In 2006, the family further acquired Château Marquis d’Alesme, a third growth Margaux.
Nathalie Porrodo (pictured above) manages the family’s wine operations, while her brother Bertrand invested in 31Dover, a London-based online drinks company which has since ceased trading.
Glen Gordon and family / William Grant and Sons
Worth £4.607 billion
Ranked 44 on the list
The family behind spirits company William Grant and Sons, which owns brands including Glenfiddich, Drambuie and Hendrick’s gin, occupies 44th position in 2023, up from 52nd in 2022.
The family built the Glenfiddich distillery in 1886, followed by the nearby Balvenie distillery. Today, its spirits are shipped to almost 200 markets around the world and the business has grown to employ more than 2,800 people.
Gordon Grant, the great great-grandson of the company’s founder, has served as chairman since 2012.
The family-owned group shifted to manufacturing ethanol for hand sanitiser during the Covid-19 pandemic, which helped to booster its whisky sales. In March it launched a limited edition Glenfiddich Grand Yozakura, aged in ex-awamori casks, with a price tag of £1,500 per bottle.
The actual value of William Grant & Sons is around £3.8 billion. However, the whisky dynasty enjoyed strong dividends from the company, including £20 million during the past year, which helps take its wealth up to £4.607 billion in 2023.
Alki David and the Leventis family/ Coca-Cola HBC
Worth £2.786 billion
Ranked 63 on the list
Premium spirits are an important part of the Coca-Cola HBC product range via partnerships with premium spirits producers.
In 2008, Coca-Cola partnered with Brown-Forman (Jack Daniels, Finlandia, El Jimador) to distribute its products, which it now does in nine different markets. In 2010, Coca-Cola became the distributor for Edrington (Famous Grouse, Macallan, Brugal whiskies) and today provides 14 markets with Edrington products.
In 2016, Coca-Cola launched a partnership with Gruppo Campari (Campari, Aperol, Cinzano), which it currently distributes to 14 markets. It also partners with Remy-Cointreau, Jägermeister, Nemiroff, Pulcari, Lucano, Glendalough and Ouzo Plomari.
Coca-Cola HBC is also the owner of two local premium spirits brands: Rézangyal pálinka (traditional fruit brandy) in Hungary; and MB Impex (a bitter liqueur) in Serbia, both of which were acquired in 2017.
Alejandro Santo Domingo and Lady Charlotte Wellesley / SAB Miller
Worth £2.167 billion
Ranked 80 on the list
SAB Miller plc was a South African multinational brewing and beverage company headquartered in Woking, until 10 October 2016 when it was acquired by AB InBev for a £78.4 billion sum.
At that time, according to the Financial Times, it was the third largest acquisition in history and the largest ever in Britain.
Prior to the acquisition, SAB Miller was the world’s second-largest brewer measured by revenues, with brands including Carling Black Label, Peroni and Castle Lager. Following the takeover of the company, AB in Bev sold on a number of brands, including MillerCoors to Molson Coors.
Columbian-American financier Alejandro Santo Domingo sits on the board of AB InBev, and also purchased NFL team Washington Commanders this year in a US$6.05 deal.
His father, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, passed down a 15% stake in SAB Mille to his sons and grandchildren when he died in 2011.
The Earl of Iveagh and the Guinness family
Ranked 172 on the list
The Earl of Iveagh, heir to the Guinness brewing empire, saw his family’s net worth drop from £1 billion in 2022 to £983 million in 2023, but still made it comfortably into the top 200 of the UK’s wealthiest individuals.
The family revealed losses of £17 million since the last Sunday Times Rich List was published, despite Guinness becoming the UK’s most popular pint earlier this year, overtaking Carling for the first time.
The Irish stout now accounts for one in every nine pints pulled in the the UK, with parent company Diageo saying “The brand is really healthy.”
The Earl, better known as Ned, inherited £62 million of shares in the company, and his 22,500-acre Elveden Hall estate in Suffolk has been used to film episodes of Netflix hit The Crown.
When Clare Hazell, the Countess Iveagh, filed for divorce from Ned in 2021, it was rumoured to be one of Britain’s biggest ever divorces due to the size of the fortune at stake.