The burgeoning UK gin category has surged past the £1.6 billion mark after sales grew 38% in the past year.

The new data from Nielsen and CGA shows that Brits bottle 60 million bottles in shops, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.

In the same period of time, £532 million worth of British gin was exported around the world, further bolstering the success of the domestic scene.

In the past year, gin accounts for 68% of the value growth in the British spirits category.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association said this success story will be damaged if Chancellor Philip Hammond presses ahead with a planned 3.4% duty rise in his autumn budget statement.

Chief executive Miles Beale said: “Gin has proved itself to be just the tonic for the Government’s ambitions to grow exports of premium British products. On top of that the gin boom in the UK has allowed our talented and innovative British distillers to invest and grow their businesses creating new jobs and boosting the British economy. If gin continues to grow at this rate there’s no reason why the industry can’t set its sights higher, we could be talking about a £3 billion gin empire by the end of 2020.

“But as things stand, instead of supporting this jewel in the crown of the British drinks industry, the Chancellor is set to raise spirits duty at the next Budget. UK consumers already pay some of the highest alcohol prices in Europe.

“We are calling on Philip Hammond to freeze duty – just as he did last year. Yet again it would be a win/win/win – more money for the Treasury, support for British business, pubs and the cash strapped consumer.”

Beale pointed out that the Treasury gains £8.05 for every 70cl bottle of 40% abv gin sold. He argued that the category stands a far better chance of future growth, thus further boosting the government’s coffers, if tax is frozen and Brits are not put off by spiralling prices.