Holyrood celebrates Scottish gin pioneers

The Scottish Parliament played host to some of the country’s finest gin producers to toast the success of Scotland’s gin industry.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association event, sponsored by Christina McKelvie MSP, welcomed MSPs to learn more about Scotland’s rich gin history and meet the people behind the brands.

Guests were able to taste the award winning gins, some of which use locally sourced botanicals such as apple mint and bladderwick seaweed to produce a uniquely Scottish flavour.

Scotland is at the beating heart of the UK’s gin industry with two thirds of gin in the UK coming from north of the border and it is estimated that over half of the world’s gin exports come from Scotland.

The Scots have a long and rich history of gin distilling which saw the country open 12 new distilleries last year, representing a quarter of all new distilleries opened up across the UK, the equivalent of a of new distillery every month, according to HMRC.

The WSTA Scotland Gin Trail launched earlier this year, showcases some of the best distillers making gin in the lowlands all the way up to the Highlands and Islands.

The gin boom shows no signs of stalling  with the spirit enjoying UK-wide double-digit growth year after year in both the on trade and off trade, leading to combined sales breaking the £1 billion industry mark earlier this year, 6 months ahead of forecasts.

This increase in sales certainly does its bit for the Treasury coffers, with recent WSTA figures revealing that gin pays £450 million in duty and VAT. Current growth rates mean these contributions will hit over 1/2 £bn in 2017.

Internationally, 3 out of every 4 bottles of gin imported round the world is from the UK, illustrating the demand for British gin across the globe.

In terms of value, British gin makes up 66% of all gin exports around the world, accounting for £422m out of the £641m total value.

The event also represented the opportunity to present the WSTA Award for Excellence to Hendrick’s Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, for outstanding contribution to Scotland’s gin industry. Lesley was instrumental in the creation of Hendrick’s gin which is recognised as a favourite around the world.

MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse and event host, Christina McKelvie, MSP said:

“This event is an opportunity to celebrate Scotland’s gin industry by meeting the very people behind the brands. Distilleries provide vital infrastructure to rural economies and create much-needed skilled jobs. I am delighted to be able to host this event amongst colleagues so we can all toast the success of a vital industry.”

Chief Executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said:

"Nationally and internationally, UK gin is growing both its sales and its reputation at phenomenal speed. Gin production is worth £1.76bn to the United Kingdom’s economy and UK spirits industry supports nearly 300,000 jobs. The continued growth of the industry gin VAT and duty contributions to the exchequer are likely to hit ½ £bn in 2017.” 

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