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WSTA turns spotlight on English and Welsh whisky with new ‘trail’

Published:  27 August, 2018

The WSTA has launched an English and Welsh whisky trail to further boost growth of a sector that lay dormant for than a century.

The trail, which follows recent growth in distillers making the spirit, had been inspired by “the success” of the London and Scotland gin trails as well as the English wine trail, said the WSTA, which has drawn up a map showing the rapid spread of whisky makers in England and Wales.

Developed to inspire consumers to learn more about the homegrown drinks industry and bring a boost to the UK’s drinks tourism, each stop on the trail gives details of the whisky makers and which ones are open to the public for tours.

The map would help put England and Wales, which unlike Scotland and Ireland aren’t renowned for whisky production, back on the ‘whisky map’, said chief executive Miles Beale.

“It is fantastic to see a growing number of English and Welsh distillers now creating quality, award winning whiskies as well as gins and increasing their sales both home and abroad,” he said.

In addition to bringing investment and jobs to the UK’s towns and the countryside, the growth in distillers also helped to boost tourism and promoted the British food and drink brand around the world, he added.

“The “ginnaisance” has attracted a whole new audience of people keen to try new spirit experiences meaning investors have been more willing to invest in craft distilleries allowing an English and Welsh whisky market to emerge,” said Beale.

English whisky dates back to at least the 17th Century, but dried up when the last producer closed their distillery doors back in the early 1900’s. The English “whisky drought” ended 100 years later when a Cornish distiller revived the craft.

Today, there are at least 19 distilleries across England and Wales producing whisky, according to the WSTA.

In England, new-make spirit must be matured for a minimum of three years in wooden casks before it can legally be called ‘whisky’, and so the process take some time.

Both Scottish and English whisky production is governed by EU regulations, although Scotland has an additional, much tighter layer of control – the Scotch Whisky Regulations, which allows whisky producers in England greater freedom to innovate.

“While some favour traditional Forsyths stills used in Scotch production, some distilleries are turning to different stills, and when paired with an assortment of grains and casks, the revitalised English whisky sector has the potential to create new, unique and exciting whiskies,” said Beale.