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UK distillery number doubles in five years

Published:  17 January, 2018

The number of UK distilleries in the UK has doubled in the past five years, boosted by the gin boom.

A total of 49 new distilleries started up in 2017, with seven closing, taking the total number of distilleries operating in the UK to 315 – up 127% in the past five years, according to the latest HMRC data.

Of the new distilleries, 22 were in England, closely followed by Scotland where 20 were opened, while four more opened in Wales and another three set up in Northern Ireland.

This compares to a total of 152 distilleries homed in the UK in 2013, of which the majority were located in Scotland.

A key driver behind the surge in new distillery openings in the past five years was Brits’ seemingly unquenchable thirst for gin, said the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

“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,” said chief executive, Miles Beale, adding it wasn’t that many years ago when a pub would stock one gin brand while now a gin menu offering a range of gins and mixers was common place in pubs and bars.

And its not all about gin, with UK distilleries now diversifying and taking advantage of Brits love of cocktails with an increasing number of new whiskies, vodkas, rums, brandies and liqueurs appearing every year.

Since 2016, UK distillery openings have gone up 172% from 116 since 2010 when the WSTA first started collecting the data – adding 199 in just 7 years.

The region showing the most rapid growth is England which in 2010 had only 23 distilleries and which grew to 135 in 2017, accounting for 56% of all UK openings in the last eight years.

London alone now has 24 making it the UK’s gin capital.