Distillery numbers in the UK swelled by 22% last year

The UK saw at least 80 new distilleries opened last year, an increase of 22% compared with 2018.

The total number of distilleries shot up to at least 441, of which England now boasts 228 (an increase of 62 compared to 2018), while Scotland has an extra 26, leading to a total of 186 distilleries, according to the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA).

In 2018 the number of distilleries in England overtook those in Scotland for the first time, with the latest figures showing that English spirit makers continue to dominate the UK spirits map, driven by the gin boom.

The WSTA’s end of year market report showed a boost in gin sales last year with more than 82 million bottles sold in the UK, worth more than £3.2 billion.

The total number of 228 in England compares to the just 23 distilleries in 2010, growing to just 66 in 2014.

Scotland still boasts some of the largest distilleries in the UK.

Chief executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said: “It’s fantastic to see a growing number of British distilleries up and down the country, year on year, providing jobs and boosting their local economies.

“A freeze at the last Budget has certainly helped our innovative British distillers to invest and boost exports.

“And because we also know that an increase in wine duty has reduced Exchequer revenue, we are asking the Chancellor to take the time to consider a clear win/win.

“A cut to excise duty would boost both British business and Treasury coffers.”

The latest HMRC figures do not reveal the total number of distillery openings in Wales and Northern Ireland as the applicants were fewer than five and the actual number has been withheld by officials to protect the confidentiality of HMRC’s customers.

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