Boom in UK distilleries registration

19th April, 2017 by Arabella Mileham

The UK has seen a continued rise in the registration of distilleries, according to the WSTA, with total numbers across the UK up 17% in the last 12 months.

The number of distilleries rose 17% to 273 during 2017, the new figures showed, with 45 new distilleries in total registered during 2016.

The number of new distilleries has more than doubled since 2010, up 135%, and sales have now passed the £1 billion mark. The majority of the new distilleries (27) were registered in England, but Scotland saw 12 new distilleries and Wales, one.

Miles Beale, the WSTA’s chief executive said consumers at home and around the world has developed “a real thirst for top quality British spirits”.

“A new distillery is coming online at the equivalent rate of one per week to rise to that challenge,” he noted. “From traditional products like Scotch, to the Great British gin boom and newer products like English and Welsh Whiskey, it is an exciting time for spirits producers across the UK.”

“As the government negotiates free-trade deals with both Europe and third countries there is a real opportunity for the UK to boost its exporting capacity by trading quality spirits overseas.”

The UK is estimated to sell more than £500 million worth of gin during 2017, according to the WSTA, after 2016 saw gin exports rise 12% to £474 million, more than £53 million more than the previous year.  The drink was also added to the UK’s ONS inflation basket for the first time in 13 years, signalling its status as a shopping basket staple among Brits.

Craft exploration

It is not only craft spirits seeing growth however, and the UK government has identified a particular opportunity for UK drinks companies in Australia.

A report published by the Department for International Trade last week, noted that “a segment of the alcoholic beverage market is migrating from quantity to quality and is becoming enthusiastic about premium products.”

It included spirits such as gin, vodka and “unique” malts, along with premium and craft ales and ciders, arguing that these were best supplied to retailers through speciality importers or distributors and marketed in the ‘international sections’ of specialist retailers.”

“Australians appreciate British alcohol products and there is considerable potential for growth in interesting beverages,” it argued.

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