England boasts more distilleries than Scotland for the first time

New HMRC figures show the number of distilleries in England has overtaken distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

In 2018 the UK recorded a total of 361 distilleries - of which 166 are in England compared to 160 distilleries based in Scotland.

For centuries Scotland has dominated the spirit making world thanks to the popularity and rich history of Scotch Whisky.

However, the gin boom has helped the number of UK distilleries to more than double in the last five years with HMRC issuing 31 new distillery licences in England in 2018 compared to just 11 in Scotland.

In 2017 Scotland had a total of 149 distilleries beating England’s 135.

The “ginaissance” has meant gin sales in the UK have hit an all-time high helping to fund new distillery bars and visitor centres across the country.

The WSTA’s end of year market report showed a massive boost in gin sales over the summer taking the total UK sales value to over £1.9 billion.

Over 66 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK in 12 months, up 41% and over 19 million more bottles than the same period last year.

According to HMRC we exported £532 million worth British gin this year which is expected to grow even more in 2019 adding to the value of the gin category.

Scotland still boasts some of the largest distilleries in the UK, however, an increasing number of smaller distilleries have emerged across England and Wales many of them diversifying and making new gins, whiskies, vodkas, rums, brandies and liqueurs.

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

“It lifts the spirits to hear that distillery numbers continue to grow in the UK. It’s not just our gins picking up awards, but we have also seen a growing number of excellent quality English and Welsh whiskies too. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it is extremely reassuring that our talented spirit makers are continuing to innovate, invest and grow. With England now boasting more distilleries than its Scottish cousins, 2018 really has marked a moment in history. There is a significant amount of money being poured back in to the British spirits industry which has been helped by the Chancellor freezing spirit duty.”

The latest HMRC figures reveal that a total of 54 new distilleries opened in 2018 – eight closed – which means that the number of spirit makers increased by 46 last year. Of the 54 new, 39 were for businesses in England, 11 Scotland, 2 Wales, 2 Northern Ireland.

English wine and beer maker Chapel Down last year branched out into the world of gin making and in March will open their “Chapel Down Gin Works” an experiential bar, restaurant and distillery. The bar in Kings Cross, London centres around the microdistillery’s gin still and incorporate ‘experiential elements’.

Construction has also begun on the Thomas Dakin Gin Distillery in Manchester. The new city centre gin distillery and visitor experience is another example of a distillery which is set to showcase the rich heritage of English gin makers.

UK distillery openings have gone up 210% from 116 since 2010 when the WSTA first started collecting the data – adding 245 in just 8 years.

England had only 23 distilleries in 2010 compared to 166 last year, accounting for 58% of all UK openings in the last eight years.

Chapel Down Managing Director, Mark Harvey, said:

“More and more consumers want to visit the location where their products are made and be informed and entertained by the people who make it happen. There’s nothing like a hands-on experience. Our Winery visits have been a key component behind the success of Chapel Down wines – growing the congregation year on year. And so, following the humbling success of the launch of our new Chapel Down Bacchus Gin, it was a natural next step for us to open a distillery experience, restaurant and bar to enable us to give customers what they want. A great time! And we’re just thrilled we have landed this in the heart of a re-energised King’s Cross, the most connected place in London.”

Chief Executive of the London Distillery Company, Killian O’Sullivan, said:

“2018 was a tremendous year across the board for the UK spirits industry. This growth coupled with the launch of two of our whisky expressions and investment in the development of several new white spirits products has meant that we have had to launch a round of fundraising which will allow us to continue to meet the demand for British spirits both at home and overseas in the years ahead. We now produce horseradish vodka, triple sec and a liqueur in addition to our extensive range of gins and whisky.

Growth in the gin category shows no sign of abating and we were delighted to see a number of English distilleries open in this space. Consumers continue to demand innovation across all spirit categories. Our view is that each of the new English distilleries will bring their own unique style and sense of place to the industry which in turn will drive the innovation that consumers have embraced over the last number of years.”

Warren Scott, CEO of Quintessential Brands Group owners of Thomas Dakin Gin comments;

“We’re in a golden era for quality English gin – it’s never been so popular but it’s origins in the North West of England are little known. The region has been an epicentre of excellence for English gin going back to the 1700’s and continues to produce some of the world’s best-selling gins at G&J Distillers in Warrington. There’s a growing thirst for knowledge when it comes to gin and with our new Thomas Dakin distillery, we are looking forward to breaking new ground in craft gin distilling and also to showing the world the North West’s important place in the colourful history of gin.”

WSTA calls for temporary suspension on wine tariffs to prevent prices rocketing in the event of a No Deal Brexit

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is calling for clarity from Government on its post no deal tariff plans, warning that any no deal Brexit will see wine prices hit an all-time high.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit the WSTA believes that a temporary suspension on all wine tariffs for 6-12 months would massively reduce the strain on the supply chain that a no deal Brexit will inevitably bring about. It argues that there would be minimal impact to Treasury coffers and probably cost much less than having to introduce a system for collection of tariffs on products that currently enter the UK tariff free.

Currently an average priced bottle of still wine costs £5.73. If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal tariffs on EU wines alongside a planned duty increase on 1 February would add an extra 20p to the price of a bottle.

In the absence of any certainty from Government and in a bid to try and keep shelves stocked and wine prices down wine importers across the country having to stockpile wine.

Direct Wines are bringing in an additional 2 million bottles, about a 40% increase, on their usual stock. And Bibendum PLB (as part of C&C) say they have developed a “robust Brexit plan” which will see them ordering “significant” extra wine to have ready in stock. Majestic Wine reported last year that they will hold another 1.5 million more bottles of European wine as part of emergency planning.

The WSTA has been advising members for over a year that they should increase their stock by 20% as a starting point in case of a no deal Brexit.

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

“Since the Referendum, the WSTA has campaigned consistently for a deal with the EU that delivers frictionless trade in goods, with no additional tariffs or costs.
If the UK ends up with a no-deal Brexit then wine businesses will have to cope with additional tariffs as well as another duty rise - which is highly likely to end up full square in the consumer’s lap, bumping up wine prices to an all-time high.

We are calling on government to clarify their tariff plans now and - in the event of a no deal Brexit - to commit temporarily to imposing no tariffs on wines for at least 6 months. This would be a pragmatic solution with any loses to the Treasury covered by not having to implement a costly new system. It also leaves intact government’s ability to remove tariffs on wine permanently – but as part of a future free trade deal.”

Currently there are no tariffs on wines from the EU, Chile and South Africa. A no deal Brexit would result in the introduction of tariffs estimated to cost UK wine importing businesses over £100 million a year.

The introduction of no deal Brexit tariffs would be a double blow for wine businesses after the Chancellor elected to single wine for a duty rise at the Autumn Budget. From February 1st duty on a bottle of wine will go up 7p. Add a tariff to the duty rise and VAT this means an average priced bottle of wine, which today costs £5.73, will cost £5.93 in the event of no deal. An extra 53p a bottle more than consumers paid before the referendum result when an average priced bottle of wine was £5.40.

For sparkling wine, which is taxed at an even higher rate, an average priced bottle currently costing £7.14 will go up 37p to £7.51.

The WSTA warns that a no deal Brexit would also mean the loss of access to the EU’s Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) which tracks alcohol coming in and going out of the country documenting consignments electronically.

EMCS allows alcohol to and from the EU to be moved on with no extra checks, without it ports are likely to descend into chaos.

The WSTA last year launched its #NoToNoDeal Campaign -, which sets out exactly why passing a deal with the EU is so crucial to the prospects of the UK’s world leading wine and spirit industry.

Fizz sales hit a record high in 2018

Sales of sparkling wine and Champagne, combined, reached a record high this year when Brits bought almost £2.2 billion worth of fizz.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s latest market report shows that almost 165 million bottles of sparkling wine and Champagne were sold in the UK in the last recorded 12 months.

A record £1.5 billion, the equivalent of 146 million bottles, of this was from sales of sparkling wine alone.

And supermarket wine buyers are reporting a boost in sales of Crémant, a French sparkling wine, this festive season.

The UK’s sales of sparkling wine have enjoyed rapid growth in the last decade, however more recently the category’s growth is slowing. Despite this 2018 still saw more sparkling wine sold in the UK than any previous year.

Combined sales of sparkling wine and Champagne have almost doubled in volume and value in the last five years.

In 2013 Brits spent around £1.2 billion on fizz compared to the £2.2 billion bought in the same 12 month period this year.

The popularity of fizz has helped to boost the English wine industry which this year saw a record harvest following near perfect growing conditions following the 2018 heatwave.

Last year around 5.9 million bottles of English and Welsh wine were produced by vineyards, this year’s harvest is expected to exceed 6 million bottles.

The Ridgeview estate in Sussex was last month awarded the coveted trophy of the world’s best winemaker in the International Wine and Spirit Competition. This is the first time in the IWSC’s 49-year history that the award has been presented to an English producer.

The sparkling wine category includes Prosecco, Cava, Crémant and English sparkling wine amongst others all of which have found their way into supermarkets and onto drinks menus in bars across the UK.

The lion’s share of sparkling wine sales in the UK is from Prosecco, however the growth in sales of Prosecco has slowed markedly, with drinkers exploring other fizz offerings.

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

“Fizz is traditionally enjoyed over the Christmas holiday period and 2018 looks to be another sparkling success for wine makers. UK consumers now have a far greater range to choose from than ever before, including world class English sparkling wines, Cava’s, Prosecco and Crémants. But to allow consumers to continue to enjoy a wide range of quality sparkling wines, the government cannot allow a ‘No Deal’ Brexit which will stifle trade and limit choice. The greatest gift for sparkling wine lovers this Christmas is a deal which allows for frictionless trade without tariffs.”

Becky Hull Master of Wine and Wine buyer at Waitrose said:

“We predict Crémant will be particularly popular during Christmas 2018. We've seen continued growth over many years and definitely expect that trend to continue. Crémant offers brilliant value for money so it's enjoying well deserved success.”

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said:

“So far it’s been a great festive season for fizz, a couple of highlights from us; Cremant continues to really gain in popularity as customers discover it’s great value and quality, and sales are actually up an impressive 300% on the year! Prosecco isn’t going anywhere and overall our Prosecco sales are up 47%, as customers have enjoyed some great deals on our Prosecco this festive season.”

Liqueur sales surge in Britain’s shops and supermarkets

Sales of liqueurs in our shops and supermarkets have been boosted as UK consumers expand their drinks cabinet collection to keep up with the cocktail craze.

The latest sales figures taken from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s market report shows that during the heatwave of 2018 Brits bought over 4 million bottles of non-cream liqueur cocktails from our supermarket’s and shops. Astonishingly the sales are up 56% on the same 12 weeks last year, the equivalent of an extra 1.4 million extra bottles.

The surge in sales of liqueurs was helped by the unusually long hot summer and consumers becoming increasingly keen to copy drinks enjoyed on a night out as growing numbers of restaurants and pubs offer a cocktail menu.

This summer saw an explosion in popularity of herbal bitter liqueurs and red-orange aperitif’s mixed with sparkling wine. These drinks served in pretty stem glasses proved very Instagrammable and consumers were keen to share their snaps of the vibrant, colourful cocktails on social media.

According to CGA data 74% of UK bars now offer cocktails and 98% of consumers who buy cocktails chose them when they are on promotion in happy hours or on two for one deals.

The liqueur category, which also includes cream liqueurs more traditionally drunk neat or on ice, has grown as a greater variety of products have been introduced to the market.

Cream liqueur sales in shops and supermarkets were the equivalent of 1.7 million bottles, a 33% increase on the same 12 week period in 2017.

When you add the recent sales boom in the off trade to sales of liqueurs in our pubs, bars and restaurants it shows that Brits bought the equivalent of over 42 million bottles of cream and non-cream liqueurs worth £1.2 billion in the last recorded 12 months.

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

“In the past liqueurs have often been overlooked in the spirits category but the WSTA market report shows a surge in sales in the UK’s shops and supermarkets in 2018. This is partly down to Britain’s long hot summer when tall cocktails over ice were a welcome relief in the heatwave. But the liqueurs boom has also been influenced by people sharing cocktail creation trends on social media with consumers keen to recreate these drinks at home.”

Gin is in the pink after heatwave sees sales almost double in two years

Gin sales in the UK have reached another record-breaking high helped by this summer’s heatwave, world cup fever and by Millennials discovering their love for new pink and flavoured gins.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s end of year market report shows a massive boost in gin sales over the summer taking the total sales value to over £1.9 billion.

Over 66 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK in 12 months, up 41% and over 19 million more bottles than the same period last year.

More gin was sold during three months of the 2018 heatwave, when the equivalent of almost 28 million bottles were bought, than the summers of 2014 and 2015 combined, which saw almost 27 million bottles sold over the two summers.

This quarter saw gin grow 53% by volume and 59% by value, compared to the same period in 2017, the largest growth by quarter on record for gin and the first time a spirit has seen growth of over 50%.

And it was in Britain’s pubs, bars and restaurants that gin saw the largest growth in value sales where for the first time in a 12 month period sales passed £1 billion, with over 56% more gin sold than last year.

So many gins were served over the bar, in the last recorded 12 months, the gin category has jumped two places in the spirits leader board. It is now the second most popular drink sold in the on-trade, behind vodka, overtaking whiskies and liqueurs for the first time.

A huge part of the gin surge, this year, has been down to sales of pink and flavoured gin as Britain has seen hundreds of new products coming onto the market.

The latest data shows that flavoured gin has driven over half of all growth in gin in the last recorded 12 months, despite only making up one fifth of total sales. Almost three quarters of the flavoured contribution to gin’s growth has been driven by pink gin.

Flavoured gin alone brought in £165 million during this time up a whopping 751% on the same period last year.

Research has shown that the explosion in the flavoured and pink gin category comes down to its appeal to consumers under 45.

The category is expected to continue to grow in 2019 as brands are set to launch new flavoured and pink gins on to market.

According to HMRC we exported £532 million worth British gin this year which is expected to grow even more in 2019 adding to the value of the gin category.

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

“Gin is once again breaking records helped by our innovative distillers who have introduced an exciting array of new flavoured, pink and more traditional gins this year. The popular new products combined with a fantastic long hot summer and the excitement of the World Cup has helped boost the category beyond all predictions. It was only a few months ago that we announced that gin sales at home and abroad had broken the £2 billion mark. Our latest Market Report shows that sales of gin in the UK alone is just shy of the £2 billion. It seems we may have been a bit premature hailing 2016 to be the ‘Year of Gin’. Just two years later we’ve almost doubled sales of gin. 2019 will have to be crowned the year when gin was in the pink.”

Warren Scott, CEO and Co-Founder of Quintessential Brands, one of the largest suppliers of gin in the UK and International Spirits Challenge Gin Distiller of the Year 2018, comments:

“It’s fantastic to see the nation’s love affair with British Gin continuing as the category diversifies. Right now, we’re seeing more interest and engagement in gin than ever from consumers – those who are new to the category as well as those more seasoned gin drinkers who want to experiment with flavoured gins or splash out on more premium gins.

“As owners of the UK’s foremost gin distillery - G&J Distillers in Cheshire - our expert distillers bring a lifetime of experience and skill to creating new and exciting gins that consumers can enjoy at home or out on the town; the recent success of premium gin brands with an innovative twist, such as BLOOM Gin - with its Jasmine & Rose Pink Gin, which flew off the shelves when we launched it this summer - shows that consumers are intrigued by these new gin flavours which can only be good news for the UK’s gin producers and the long term health of the category.

“Whilst such innovation is key to driving interest in British gin, it’s important to recognise the longstanding gin heritage we have in this country and the enduring popularity of classic gins. Whilst the last year has seen a huge surge of interest in new styles and flavours of gin, the majority of gins that we’re drinking today are actually based on a style dating back to 1761, when the Original London Dry Gin was created by an enterprising young man named Thomas Dakin. That very same gin, Greenall’s, is still produced in exactly the same way by G&J Distillers, and it remains one of the best-selling gins in the world today.

“The run-up to Christmas has been busier than ever as we pull out all the stops to meet demand for the festive season. It’s certainly a golden era for British Gin right now and I’m confident this success will continue in the years ahead.”


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