Booze bonanza? Licence to distill applications treble as Britons get into the spirit of things

Emma Haslett
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The success of boutique British brands has encouraged would-be distillers (Source: Getty)

Looks like the UK's booze enthusiasts are getting into the spirit of things, after a new report suggested the number of applications for a license to distill trebled in a single year.

The research, by UHY Hacker Young, found applications for distilleries jumped to 65 last year, from 20 the year before - and just five in 2009-10.

The company said the leap "echoes the rise in applications to launch breweries over the last few years". According to its figures, 30 craft beer breweries were set up in the capital alone in 2014. But in contrast to beer, those experimenting with distilling - which can be a dangerous pursuit, thanks to the explosive gasses that can build up - must get a licence before they start.

But the company suggested the success of high-end British spirit brands such as Sipsmith and Butler's had inspired a new generation of would-be distillers.

"Fashionable young consumers are searching for authenticity in their drinks, and they are not afraid to pay higher prices for it," said James Simmonds, a partner at the firm.

"A trend that started in the bars of Shoreditch is now becoming a real thriving growth sector across the UK. Some start-up distilleries are beginning to look to export globally and they have the potential to do very well internationally. Scotch Whisky is one of the top exports for Scotland; the UK’s boutique spirit industry could follow its example."

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