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UK distillery numbers continue to rise

The number of distilleries in the UK continued to rise during 2019, the latest figures from HMRC have shown, rising 22% on last year, to 441.

Industrial equipment for brandy production

Nearly 90 new distilleries got the go-ahead in 2019, the official stats show – a record number, with 62 new distilleries opening in the UK and a further 26 in Scotland. This takes the total number of distilleries in England to 228, up from around166 last year, with Scotland’s total number rising to 186.

Last year marked the first time that the number of English distilleries overtook those in Scotland, on the back of the booming gin trade – although Scotland still contains the higher proportion of larger distilleries as those in England tend to be small.

The number of new distilleries in Wales and Northern Ireland are not revealed by HMRC however, in order to protect anonymity, but it is believed to be fewer than five.

Since 2014, the number of UK distilleries has more than doubled, from 184 to 441, with the number of English distilleries rising from 66 in 2014 to 228 today, up from just 23 in 2010, on the back of the gin boom.

Sales of gin in the UK totalled £2.6 billion in the year to June 2019, according to the latest stats from the WSTA, with more than 82 million bottles sold. Gin exports also reach £672million, HMRC figures show.

Meanwhile Scotch sales, with the export value of global Scotch Whisky exports grew by 4.4% to £4.91 billion, according to the Scottish Whisky Association.

The WSTA’s chief executive Miles Beale said the duty freeze on last year’s budget had helped innovative British distillers to invest and boost exports and called on the new Chancellor to consider what a cut could do to boost both British business and the government’s coffers.

“It is proven from the Government’s own statistics that cutting or freezing duty brings more money to the Treasury. On March the 11th we are calling on the Chancellor to cut spirit duty by 2% and deliver a win for British business, a win for British consumers and a windfall for the Treasury.”

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