UK gin exports could seriously rival the £4bn a year whisky industry

Lynsey Barber
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Raise a glass? Gin's star is rising (Source: Flickr/cyclonebill)

Forget Don Draper brooding over a glass of whisky, it's now all about the spirit housewife Betty Draper was more likely drowning her sorrows in, perhaps with a gimlet or a G&T.

Exports of gin have risen by more than a third within the last five years, hitting almost £400m in 2014, but now the government has unveiled ambitious plans for gin-making to rival that of the £4bn a year whisky industry.

“This is fertile ground with enormous opportunities," said environment secretary Liz Truss. "There is absolutely no reason why our gin trade can’t be as successful as whisky, which made £4bn for our economy last year."

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In addition to a two per cent cut in duty on gin in the March Budget, the government is serving the drink traditionally called mother's ruin at foreign embassies to entice new markets and boost the gin economy - or ginconomy as it should perhaps be named.

Target markets for export growth include Brazil, India and Asia, while in China a representative based in the British embassy in Bejing has been charged with promoting trade with the country in the area of specialty foods, including the spirit.

The US, Canada, Spain and Germany have already enjoyed more than a million British-made gin and tonics last year.

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More than 70 new gin distilleries have opened in the last five years with the number of gin brands in the UK more than doubling in the same time. Although London has traditionally been the home of gin, 70 per cent is now produced in Scotland, which is also the home of the Whisky industry.

“This is an extremely exciting time for all the UK gin industry," said Wine and Spirit Trade Association boss Mike Beales. "We have seen an explosion in British gin production with the latest figures showing that an astounding 56 distilleries have sprung up in just two years. British gin has a strong, vibrant history and its renaissance continues to go from strength to strength.”

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