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UK-made gins are seeing a boom as distillery numbers jump

·2-min read
The Harris gin bottles from the Isle of Harris Distillery (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
The Harris gin bottles from the Isle of Harris Distillery (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

The number of UK gin distilleries grew by 110 last year as our appetite for the spirit soared during the pandemic.

There are now 820 UK gin distilleries, up from 710 in 2020 and 190 in 2015, Office for National Statistics figures show.

Micro distilleries, those with less than 10 employees, now make up 730 of all sites, up from 620 the year previously.

The industry is benefiting from the recent spirits duty freeze but the UK Spirits Alliance, representing more than 260 members, is calling on the Treasury to make alcohol taxation a “level playing field”.

This is a once in a generation chance to make the alcohol duty system fairer and more representative of modern drinking trends

UK Spirits Alliance

It said new proposals would result in spirits remaining taxed at more per unit of alcohol than cider, beer and wine, while leaving the industry without access to tax breaks available to other alcohol producers.

Campaigners say this does not take into account modern drinking trends and will mean those enjoying a premium cocktail are penalised over wine, beer or cider drinkers.

Hugh Anderson, who runs the small Downton Distillery near Salisbury, said: “It’s brilliant to see the number of small distilleries growing across the UK. Consumers everywhere are enjoying premium, craft products like the ones we produce at Downton Distillery.

“This growth has only been able to happen thanks to a stable excise duty regime instilled by the Chancellor

“However, whilst I was delighted to see the Chancellor freeze spirits duty in the Budget in October, he now needs to take a serious look at the proposed Alcohol Duty Review reforms and ensure spirits aren’t unfairly penalised. I would also like to see the introduction of a small distiller’s relief, as is standard in the brewing industry.”

A UK Spirits Alliance spokesman said: “It’s fantastic that the number of UK spirits producers have boomed in the last year, in spite of the pandemic. The UK spirits industry provide billions every year to the Exchequer and is responsible for key innovations like carbon-negative gins.

“But we need the Chancellor to support the industry as we look towards the review of alcohol duty, to build on the Prime Minister’s Queen Speech commitment to ‘support Scotch Whisky and Gin producers’.

“This is a once in a generation chance to make the alcohol duty system fairer and more representative of modern drinking trends.”

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