Drake offers fans a stake in Virginia Black whiskey

Canadian rapper Drake is planning to sell stakes in his whiskey business, raising as much as $30m (£22.2m) to expand the company.

The move comes over a year after the first sales of Virginia Black, which Drake started with the founder of DeLeon Tequila.

The partners say the stock offering is more about raising awareness of the brand than cash.

Would-be investors must spend a minimum of $100 to participate.

The Virginia Black sale will start in the first quarter through a type of crowd-sourced stock sale open to anyone.

Co-founder Brent Hocking said the company did not need to raise money.

"Everyone in this deal is well-financed," Mr Hocking said. "This offering is more of Drake giving an opportunity for all of his fans to come and be a part of this with him and to create a large group of brand ambassadors that can be proud that they own a piece of Virginia Black."

US regulators in 2015 paved the way for the type of offering that Virginia Black plans to use in a bid to help smaller companies.

The process does not carry the same rules for public communications as other kinds of public offerings, said Mark Elenowitz the chief executive of TriPoint Global Equities, which is underwriting the Virginia Black offering.

He said his firm is talking to "a lot" of celebrity-linked firms about the process.

In the case of Virginia Black, Mr Elenowitz said: "What draws us is not the celebrity, but rather the deal."

Mr Hocking declined to reveal details about Virginia Black's revenue and profits but said 60,000 cases of the Indiana-made whiskey had been sold in about 15 months.

A 750ml bottle, which has rye flavour and has a mild flavour intended for mass appeal, costs about $40 in the US or £40 in the UK.

By comparison, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey sold about 12.5m cases in 2017, while Woodford Reserve brand sold 600,000.

Virginia Black launched an advertising campaign late last year, but Drake is yet to publicise the offering on his popular social media accounts.

Mr Hocking said that came as no surprise: "He's up in the studio, late night working."

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