Gin boom sparks surge in distillery numbers

The amount of distilleries in the UK has grown by 127% in the past five years, according to the latest data from HMRC.

Britain now boasts 315 distilleries, and the latest figures from HMRC show that 49 new distilleries started up in 2017, while seven closed, resulting in a net increase of 42.

Of these, 22 were in England and a further 20 opened in Scotland, while four opened in Wales and a further three set up in Northern Ireland.

Just five years ago there were only 152 distilleries operating in the UK, the majority of which were in Scotland. London alone now has 24 gin distilleries, making it the UK’s gin capital.

Experts predict that the growth in UK distilleries will continue this year after the industry received a boost from the Chancellor when he froze spirits duty in his November budget.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “Gin is the key driver behind the surge in new distillery openings in the UK in the last five years. New gin brands continue to pop up on our supermarket shelves, on a regular basis, as Brits show no sign of tiring of the quintessentially British spirit. It wasn’t that many years ago when a pub would stock one gin brand and now a gin menu offering a range of gins and mixers is commonplace in our pubs and bars.

"It is welcome news that another 49 new distilleries opened in the UK last year bringing new jobs to the British spirit industry and helping boost Britain’s export potential. There is a significant amount of investment going in to the British spirits industry and the Chancellors welcome boost is likely to see this trend continue into 2018 – as well as broadening out into new variations of English and Welsh whisky.”

James Wright, managing director of Aber Falls Distillery, which will begin operating this year, said: “It is an exciting time for the UK spirits industry as people are showing more and more interest in trying new spirit drinks and learning about where these drinks come from and how they are made. Our new site in Abergwyngregyn includes a visitor centre and training centre where the public will be able to sign up for our courses in craft distilling. We are extremely pleased to be creating a new distillery in Wales, which will bring jobs and trade to the local area. “

Last year saw another bumper sales period for gin, according to the WSTA’s latest market report. Brits bought more than 47 million bottles of gin over the last 12 months, which is up seven million bottles compared to the same period a year ago. The majority of gin sold in the UK is from shops and supermarkets, where 38.7 million bottles flew off the shelves between September 2016 and 2017. 

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