The gin-aissance: Number of distilleries in England jumped by a third in 2015, according to UHY Hacker Young

 
Francesca Washtell
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The number of gin distilleries in England increased by a third in 2015 (Source: Getty)

The increasing demand for boutique spirits pushed the number of new distilleries in England up by a third last year.

Dubbed the "gin-aissance", the spirits boom led to 28 new distilleries opening in England 2015, up from 21 in 2014, according to research from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young. Across the UK, 56 artisan distilleries opened last year.

The popularity of UK artisan products, especially the surge in demand for boutique spirits such as gin, was behind the rising number of distilleries.

Last year gin sales fell just short of £1bn, while gin beat many other spirits as the drink of choice for younger drinkers.

Read more: British gin sales broke all records in 2015

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: "The relatively quick production process of gin is another reason for the industry’s success.

"Gin distillers are able to generate revenue more quickly than whisky producers who have to wait for the whisky to fully mature - there’s likely to be many distilleries producing both gin and whisky simultaneously, but the whisky products won’t be available on the high street for some time.

"The UK’s spirits industry remains strong for the economy as a large amount of gin and vodka is exported around the world, primarily to the US. With sales hitting £1bn last year and continuing to rise, this trend does not appear to be slowing down any time soon."

The rising popularity of artisan distilleries follows the success of the UK's craft beer industry. A study by UHY Hacker Young released in March found 36 breweries had opened in 2015, up from 29 in 2014. The rise was attributed to craft beer's status as a "luxury" and "aspirational" product.

Read more: James Bond boosts UK gin exports

Mark Holdsworth, founder of the Camden-based Half Hitch gin distillery, believes the appeal of gin could also be due to its versatility.

"I think the latest popularity of gin is in part down to a renaissance of classic cocktails, a mildly patriotic interest in a truly British spirit and the fact that there are now lots to choose from with an array of styles and key botanicals. I think the "gin-aissance" has probably just started." Holdsworth said.

"Producers can sustain interest in gin as they are so many ways to drink it – from a simple G&T to a classic cocktail or, as in our case, even sipping over ice. Also, gin is positively unconstrained by rules so as long as there is juniper present one can use a wide array of botanicals and this means lots of choice in the profile of any gin’s flavour."

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