The WSTA launches English and Welsh Whisky Trail

The WSTA has launched an English and Welsh Whisky Trail to celebrate the resurrection of this sector, which has a history dating back to the 17th Century.

The English whisky sector was once thriving but many distilleries ceased production back in the early 1900’s when demand slowed.

Britain now has a number of distilleries in operation and the WSTA – inspired by the success of its London and Scotland Gin Trails, as well as its English Wine trail – decided to draw up a map to shop the rapid spread of whisky makers in England and Wales.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “The UK spirits industry is a real success story. Britain now boasts 315 distilleries – more than double the number that were operating across the country five years ago. We can safely say the growing number of distilleries is no flash in the pan, as we have seen a wave of exciting new Welsh and English distillery projects.

“The ‘ginaissance’ 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.

“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. In addition to bringing investment and jobs to the UK’s towns and the countryside it also helps to boost tourism and promotes the British food and drink brand around the world.”

The WSTA English and Welsh Whisky Trail is designed to inspire consumers to learn more about this homegrown drinks industry while also giving a boost to the UK’s drinks tourism.

Each stop on the map gives details of the whisky makers and while ones are open to the public for tours.

England and Wales, unlike Scotland or Ireland, are not renowned for whisky production. In the late 19th century however there were at least four distilleries in operation – Lea Valley Distillery in London, Bristol Distillery, and Bank Hall and Vauxhall distilleries, both in Liverpool.

In 1905 the last of these distilleries, Lea Valley Distillery, closed its doors. Production of single malt whisky in England ceased until 2003.

Today there are at least 19 distilleries across England and Wales producing whisky.

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

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.

This allows whisky producers in England more freedom to innovate, with some turning to different stills as well as an assortment of grains and casks. 

Related articles: