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UK world’s biggest exporter of gin

“There is absolutely no reason why our gin trade can’t be as successful as whisky”, believes the UK’s environment secretary, revealing that exports of the spirit have risen by 37% since 2010, making the UK its biggest exporter in the world.

Exports of gin from the UK were worth £394m in 2014, a rise of 37% in value since 2010 off the back of a “revival” of the spirit in the UK. Between 2010 and 2014 a total of 73 new spirit distilleries opened in the UK, 56 in the past two years, while the number of UK gin brands has also doubled since 2010 from 31 to 73. With 1.6 billion gin and tonics sold globally in 2014, the UK is now the world’s leading exporter of gin.

Today, the UK’s environment secretary Elizabeth Truss spoke of her ambition to see the UK’s gin industry match whisky exports, which topped £4 billion in 2014. Visiting the Beefeater and Sipsmith distilleries in London she said the UK was “fertile ground with enormous opportunities” for gin.

“There is absolutely no reason why our gin trade can’t be as successful as whisky, which made £4 billion for our economy last year. I want to harness the ambition of our “gin-trepreneurs” and see them match that in years to come, helping us and building a stronger one nation economy for the UK. We will continue to unleash the creative spirit of our food and drink entrepreneurs by giving them the freedom, the technology, the research and the people to think big, take risks and build profitable businesses.”

A taste for craft gin has helped boost the industry, with handcrafted and bespoke botanicals driving demand. Across Scotland, where 70% of the UK’s gin is produced, gin distilleries are drawing on whisky production to create unique recipes. Bruichladdich distillery on the Island of Islay has added 22 handpicked wild herbs and flowers, including heather, spearmint and white clover, to create its Islay Dry Gin.

“Having inherited 200 years of gin distilling history, we wanted this to be reflected at every stage in the development of our gin, but it is important that as an industry we constantly evolve and innovate to ensure that we create new and unique recipes that are loved the world over”, said Sam Galsworthy, co-founder of Sipsmith, of London’s gin heritage. “In this way, we embrace the old ways while harnessing the new which makes for a potent and characterful combination”.

The UK government is now targeting growing markets like India, Brazil and the Far East, and recently appointed Karen Morgan as its first ever food counsellor in China in an effort to open up greater food and drink exports in this market. Earlier this year, the government cut the duty on gin by 2% to further boost the industry.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “This is an extremely exciting time for all the UK gin industry. We have seen an explosion in British gin production with the latest figures showing that an astounding 56 distilleries have sprung up in just two years. British gin has a strong, vibrant history and its renaissance continues to go from strength to strength”.

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