Gin and fizz proving to be just the tonic for the great British pub

Seven more distilleries opened in the UK last year than HMRC had previously thought

Gin sold in the UK has broken the £1bn barrier - 6 months earlier than forecast

Sparkling wine and champagne sold in UK pubs, bars and restaurants reaches £800 million in last 12 months

The gin and sparkling wine craze is providing a much needed boost to British pubs according to new figures released by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

The latest statistics reveal that 49% of the value of drinks sold in new pubs bars and restaurants opened in 2013 - 2015 were wine and spirits. This is up 5% since 2010.

The latest WSTA Market Report reveals that in the last 12 months to August £601 million worth of gin was sold on trade and £424 million off trade.

At the beginning of the year forecasts for gin sales in the UK estimated they would reach the billion pound mark in 2017. However the warm English summer has seen gin hit a billion in record time.

In the last 12 weeks alone (to 9/7/16) £149 million worth of gin was sold in UK pubs, bars and restaurants. Up 19% on last year.

It is a similar story for sparkling wine (not including champagne) which in the last 12 weeks (to 9/7/16) has sold £97m in pubs, bars and restaurants. Up 19% on last year.

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of specialist gin bars opening, as well as pubs and restaurants offering gin menus and serving G&T’s with alternative garnishes in bespoke glassware.

We have even seen the arrival of a gin hotel, the Hendricks’ double decker gin bus, gin and tonic flavoured crisps and ice-creams and even a gin and tonic inspired drizzle cake on the new series of the Great British Bake Off.

The public’s unquenchable thirst for a gin experience has also led to a boom in distilleries. In 2015 a total 56 new distilleries were opened according to the HMRC – 28 in England, 6 in Wales, 10 in Northern Ireland and 12 in Scotland.

Earlier figures released by HMRC in January stated a total of 49 distilleries had opened in 2015. The updated figure shows there are seven more than first believed.

The gin boom has also been helped by the WSTA London and Scotland Gin Trails which lead gin enthusiasts around the best distilleries and bars to learn more about the spirit.

Although beer has traditionally been associated with a visit to the pub the statistics show that the tide is turning and bar entrepreneurs are looking at ways of serving spirits and fizz to diversify and update the great British pub’s image.

As well as gin inspired menus, fizz Friday’s and Prosecco promotions are now a common feature in British pubs.

Spirit drinks account for 25.8% of this figure and wine 22.8%, in new pub and bar openings between 2013-15, showing that wine and spirits are now as important to the pub trade as beer and cider.

The outstanding category for sales of non-spirit drinks in UK pubs, bars and restaurants, in the latest WSTA Market Report, is sparkling wine and champagne. In the last 12 months (9/7/16) £804m worth of fizz was sold on trade up 13% on the same period last year.

Sales of sparkling wine (not including champagne) UK shops and supermarkets for the last 12 months (13/8/16) reached £175 million up 29% for the same period last year.

In total sparkling wine and champagne sold in the UK, on and off trade combined in the last 12 months, has reached £1.1bn up 11%.

In total, gin sales in 2015 accounted for 11.5% of the UK spirits market by volume, up 25% on 2014.

This shows gin gaining ground on Scotch whisky, which accounted for 18.2% of spirits sold in the UK, up 0.4% in volume over the same period. Vodka, which out sells all spirits in the on and off trade, took 29.7% of the market, up 5% in volume.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“The WSTA’s latest Market Report shows how popular gin has become with UK consumers, including those supporting British pubs. While bar owners and restaurateurs have seen the magic and versatility of the quintessentially British spirit gin menus and bespoke glassware are now a regular feature in pubs too.

The gin revolution shows no sign of slowing and consumers are enjoying the celebrated juniper based spirit in all sorts of creative ways. We were delighted to see a gin and tonic drizzle cake making an appearance in the latest series of the Great British Bake Off.

And wine too – the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink – continues to play an extremely vital role in our pubs, including as part of the broader British food and drink revolution. Wine and spirits, gin and fizz in particular, are now mainstays of a successful pub, showing the increasing diversity of our industry and the modern consumer.”

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