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UK spirits boom continues as 39 distilleries launched in 2017

Thirty nine new distilleries were opened in the UK in 2017, according to UHY Hacker Young accountancy Group.

New UK distilleries ranged from whisky in Scotland to urban gin south of the border, said UHY Hacker Young, releasing new figures this week that suggest the craft spirits boom shows little sign of abating.

Prior to 2017, the number of UK distilleries had already more than doubled over the past five years.

UK Distilleries

The increasing numbers of distilleries in the UK. Credit: UHY Hacker Young

Customs data from HMRC shows that sales of spirits in the UK rose to a record high of £3.5 billion in 2017, according to Hacker Young.

Exports of British gin also reached record highs in 2017, of more than £500 million.

See also: Scotch whisky auction sales soar – figures

‘The explosive success of the UK’s craft spirits industry has allowed boutique brands to sell at higher margins,’ said James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

‘The sales growth of craft spirits is something that big drinks companies, who are suffering from low single digit sales growth, are looking at enviously.’

A growing number of English wineries are also creating spirits from their grapes, either in house or with external companies, such as Chapel Down, Bolney Wine Estate and Haittingley Valley.

An advantage of producing spirits is that the product is quicker to get to market than wine.

‘Many innovative new distillers are experimenting in new and adventurous ways of producing these spirits,’ said Simmonds.

‘Craft and artisan gin in particular has seen surges in consumer demand, and new distillers are taking advantage of the relatively quick production process to cash in on the trend.’

Some gin distillers were also known to be ageing stocks of whisky, while others have previously said that they planned to branch out into brown spirits.

See also: How to taste gin like a professional

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