Business

Monday 18 February 2019

There are now more distilleries in England than Scotland and Ireland

Boom in gin behind the trend

English whisky is becoming popular but gin is the real driver behind growth (stock photo)
English whisky is becoming popular but gin is the real driver behind growth (stock photo)

Josie Clarke

England now boasts more distilleries than Scotland for the first time, official figures show.

The UK recorded a total of 361 distilleries last year according to HMRC figures, of which 166 are in England and 160 are based in Scotland.

For centuries Scotland has been the dominant spirits maker thanks to the popularity and history of Scotch Whisky.

However, the gin boom has helped the number of UK distilleries to more than double in the last five years, with 31 new distillery licences in England in 2018 compared to just 11 in Scotland.

The equivalent of one distillery a week opened in the UK last year in 2018.

By comparison there are about 18 whiskey distilleries in Ireland according to the Alcoholic Beverage Federation.

Gin and tonic
Gin and tonic

The explosion in gin is a phenomenon on both sides of the Irish Sea.

British Wine and Spirits Trade Association's (WSTA) end of year market report showed UK gin sales saw a significant boost over the summer to take the total value to over £1.9bin.

More than 66 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK in 12 months, up 41pc on the same period last year.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: "With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it is extremely reassuring that our talented spirit makers are continuing to innovate, invest and grow.

"With England now boasting more distilleries than its Scottish cousins, 2018 really has marked a moment in history."

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