Diageo and Whyte & Mackay will be the launch partners for the inaugural year of spirits show Distil.

This is the first time the spirits industry has had a dedicated trade event, said organisers Brintex. The event will take place at ExCel in London’s Docklands at the same time as the London International Wine Fair, which runs from 20 to 22 May.

Diageo said the move was part of its ongoing commitment to drive growth in the spirits category. “There are many reasons for Diageo to support such an important business event,” said Russell Jones, spirits category manager at the company. “The opportunity to communicate with the trade will prove invaluable in achieving our objective of driving growth in 2008 and beyond.”

Plans for a bar where visitors can relax, network and do business at the show were in the pipeline, Brintex said. Other confirmed exhibitors include Marblehead and Coe Vintners as well as trade bodies the Scotch Whisky Association and the Gin & Vodka association.