Scotland celebrates the success of the gin boom

Scotland boasts a record number of gin distilleries reaching from Berwick to the Shetland Isles with over 50 Scottish gin brands available on the market.

In 2017 HMRC recorded 20 new distillery openings in Scotland taking the total number of Scottish distilleries up to 149, a 63% increase in five years.

The recent boom in gin distilleries means that over a third of Scotland’s 149 distilleries are now producing gin.

To celebrate the phenomenal success of the Scottish gin industry the Wine and Spirit Trade Association arranged a reception in the Scottish Parliament and published a new WSTA Scotland Gin Trail for the event.

Sponsored by Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, and in the week of World Gin Day (Sat 9 June), the event welcomed MSPs to learn more about Scotland’s rich gin history and meet the people behind the brands.

The WSTA Scotland Gin Trail, first launched back in 2016, has been updated to reflect the rapid rise in distilleries and now includes 54 gin makers across the length and breadth of Scotland.

With many of the gin producers making more than one type of gin the number of Scottish gin brands is believed to have climbed to around 140.

Some of Scotland’s finest gin and spirit makers took part in a tasting showcase for MSP’s at a reception in Holyrood on Wednesday evening.

These included gins infused with homegrown botanicals including bladderwrack seaweed, rowan berry, bog myrtle, garden mint and plum.

 Spirit sales in Scotland were worth almost £1.2bn last year, £150 million of that came from gin sales.

In a recent YouGov poll gin came out top of Scotland’s most popular spirit drink ahead of vodka and Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

At the end of last year the UK’s first gin spa opened in Glasgow. This was followed by one Scottish gin distiller attracting two investment offers in the Dragon’s Den, for his pitch to open a new distillery and restaurant.

The “ginaissance” shows no signs of slowing, in 2017 UK gin exports grew to an all-time high, worth £530 million.

Commenting on the event, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said:

“I was delighted to host an evening of Scottish gin and spirits in the Scottish Parliament, celebrating the fantastic growth of gin production in Scotland. Across the country, we are seeing the real positive impact of Scotland’s ‘ginaissance’ - with sales of gin increasing. With over 20 new distillery’s opening in Scotland alone in 2017, contributing £1.2bn to the economy, the spirit industry continues to provide employment and enterprise for my constituents.”

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

“Over the past five years the UK has been in the grip of what has been dubbed a ‘ginaissance’ - with sales of gin increasing at a rate of 20% a year throughout the UK. Scotland has played a central role in the gin boom and the rapid rise in the number of Scottish gin distilleries and brands has provided a welcome boost to the local economy, bringing in more jobs and encouraging tourism. The updated WSTA Scotland Gin Trail includes even more destinations where visitors can learn about the innovations and traditions behind some of the world’s best quality gins and most iconic gin brands.

We are extremely pleased to be able to showcase some of the best Scottish gin producers at Holyrood to share the successes of the Scottish gin industry first hand with MSP’s and allow them to learn more about this exciting industry.”

To find out more about the Scottish gin industry read the WSTA blog click here .To download a copy of the updated WSTA Scotland Gin Trail click here .

WSTA crackdown on fake booze

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association have joined forces with Crimestoppers in a crackdown on criminals pedaling fake booze.

Today marks the launch of a new video explaining how to report and bring to justice the modern-day moonshiners whose hooky hooch can threaten people’s lives.

The aim is to make the public aware of fake alcohol and the effects it can have on consumers’ health as well as highlighting how fakers put lives as risk with dodgy alcohol factories.

The WSTA and Crimestoppers have teamed up to provide a dedicated alcohol fraud line for use by members of the public they can also report online, if they have bought illegal booze or suspect it is being sold.  Call 0800 234 6388, or go to 100% anonymously. Always. Speak up. Stay Safe.

Information can be given anonymously and will help the authorities crack down on the criminals who are selling fake booze, often to fund serious organised crime including drugs and people trafficking.

Producers of fake products are not just cheating the system – their alcohol can contain a cocktail of dangerously toxic chemicals. 

The side effects from illicit or counterfeit alcohol can leave drinkers bed bound for days, suffering black outs, blurred vision and even short-term sight loss.

So far reports to the alcohol fraud line have uncovered a number of independent stores selling alcohol under the counter without a licence, smugglers bring alcohol and drugs into the UK, criminals pedaling fake alcohol brands, brothels trading booze without a licence and fake booze being sold in social clubs.

Some fake booze has been found to contain a cocktail of anti-freeze, nail varnish remover, cleaning fluid and industrial spirits, amongst other things.

These toxic products are significantly cheaper than ethanol and can increase the strength of the drink, but are a serious danger to health.

The problem is significant, as shown by the HMRC seizing 50 million litres of illicit alcohol in the UK.

According to the Institute of Economic Affairs the UK is estimated to lose out on £1.2 billion per tax year due to illicit alcohol. 

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

“The sale of illicit alcohol puts lives at risk and allows criminals to profit while costing the UK over £1 billion each year according to HMRC. Working with Crimestoppers the Wine and Spirit Trade Association is determined to help clean up the black market for counterfeit alcohol and to spread the word we have put together a new video explaining how to spot fake booze. Although most alcohol retailers are legitimate we urge the public not to take a risk to save a few quid - and to report anything they suspect is fake alcohol to the Crimestoppers alcohol fraud line.”

If you have any information, please contact The Alcohol Fraud Line 100% anonymously on 0800 234 6388 or through the non-traceable Anonymous online form at

The Alcohol Fraud video is available to view here: -

WSTA celebrate success of Welsh wine and spirits industry with Welsh Assembly event

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association this week held a celebration of Welsh wine and spirits at the National Assembly for Wales, giving some of the finest local wine and spirit producers the chance to engage with AM’s and showcase their products.

The event was hosted in conjunction with Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, as part of the WSTA’s drive to raise awareness of the great British drinks industry.

The Welsh wine and spirit industry is going from strength to strength. Latest data from HMRC shows that as of 2017 there are 17 distilleries in Wales, up from just one five years ago, with four new openings in 2017.

There are also at least 23 vineyards in Wales, producing both still and sparkling wines that continue to pick up awards for quality, showing Welsh producers can go toe to toe with some of the best winemakers across the globe.

The UK drinks industry is calling on all parts of government to be bolder than ever in its support for British wine and spirit makers. 

Three distilleries took part in the showcase, alongside three vineyards, with products including still and sparkling wine, Welsh whisky and even a gin that changes colour when mixed with tonic.

Also in attendance were Community Alcohol Partnerships, who had a stand at the event and informed AMs of their plans for expansion in Cardiff and the valuable work they are doing to prevent underage drinking across Wales. The organisation currently operates 4 CAP schemes across the country.

Wine and spirit sales in Wales were worth nearly £1.3 billion in 2017, with around £650million spent on wine and around £630 million on spirits.

Alongside supporting around 33,000 jobs, the Welsh wine and spirits industry provides around a £400 million windfall for the Treasury each year.

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

“Welsh wine and spirit businesses continue to boom, with both the size of the industry and the quality of produce increasing each year. Our event at the Senedd earlier this week was well attended, and it was clear that Assembly Members have great enthusiasm for supporting welsh wine and spirits producers.

“Four distilleries opened in Wales last year, and a reported six vineyards as well, bringing a boost to the local economy as well as new jobs to the area.

“There is a significant amount of investment going into wine and spirits in Wales, and the industry was worth over £1 billion pounds to the Welsh economy last year, but 48% of this goes straight to the Treasury. That’s why the support of Welsh AMs is so crucial as producers look to invest in their business, and seek to take advantage of new export opportunities as we ready for Brexit.”

Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy and Sponsor of the event, added:

"It was a great evening at the Senedd and I was proud to host wine and spirit producers from across Wales. Their contribution to the economy shouldn't go unnoticed, and their importance cannot be understated, particularly given that around 33,000 jobs across Wales rely on them.

“The products they showcased were great and there was lots of innovation on display. I look forward to seeing the Welsh wine and spirits industry continue to grow in the coming years – such as Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard in my own constituency of Aberconwy – and it has my full support."

Robb Merchant, White Castle Vineyard, said:

"We were pleased to be asked along with our friends throughout the Welsh wine industry to showcase our products and discuss with Assembly Members how they can support our industry to grow. I have owned a vineyard since 2009, and in the last ten years have been joined by other skilled vineyard owners across Wales as the quality and quantity of Welsh wine has grown. With the support of government we can look forward to a bright future."

WSTA Brexit debate ~ a year on and a year out ~ at the London Wine Fair

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is hosting a Brexit debate at this year’s London Wine Fair to help industry prepare for life after leaving the European Union. With less than a year to go, a panel of industry experts will discuss the hot issues for industry including tariffs, regulations and the movement of goods and people; and how businesses and suppliers can plan effectively to minimise disruption and prepare for change. 

The top team of panelists include: Jean-Marie Barillère, President of the Unions des Maisons de Champagne (UMC); Troy Christensen, CEO, Enotria and Coe; Samantha Linter, Managing Director & Winemaker, Bolney Estate; Paul Sorrentino, Vice President & General Manager EMEA, E&J Gallo Winery; and Leendert Vis, Chief Information Office, JF Hillebrand. Representing wine businesses from across the globe, the speakers will discuss the impact of Brexit in terms of both possible setbacks and opportunities.  WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, will introduce and moderate the discussion and Q&A; “Brexit; the latest” will take place at 10.30am on Monday, 21st May in the London Room at Olympia. 

Commenting on the debate, Miles Beale said:

“With less than a year to go before the UK leaves the EU, the government appears to be making progress and - at long last - some details of what Brexit really means are beginning to emerge. The WSTA has been vocal in holding the UK Government’s feet to the fire to get what our industry needs.  And so far, so good. But the major hurdles to overcome and decisions to make have yet to be tackled and there is less than a year to achieve it. It is vital that industry is consulted and kept informed in the crucial last months of the countdown to Brexit and the welcome transition period beyond. The London Wine Fair is the perfect place and moment to debate the challenges and opportunities the industry faces; and will help industry to plan for Brexit and the great unknown beyond!”

Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair, added: “Last year’s Brexit Briefing drew the largest audience in the show’s history.  With the clock ticking, the industry is seeking further clarity and The Fair is well-placed to provide a platform for what is the most impactful political and economic event affecting the drinks trade in years. Whilst the effects of Brexit are already becoming a reality in many sectors, the need for reassurance and knowledge is more relevant than ever before.”

Last year’s inaugural Brexit Debate was standing room only; to reserve a place for this year, please


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