Monday 16 March 2020 12:01 am

UK distillery numbers jump as craft gin popularity booms

The number of distilleries in the UK has surged as craft gin continues to grow in popularity, according to the latest research. 

Distilleries jumped 20 per cent to 246 over the last year, up from 205 the previous year, as the UK gin industry toasted a nine per cent increase in export sales to £672m in 2019. Whiskey has also proved to be popular, as Scotch exports grew 4.4 per cent to £4.9bn last year. 

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Consumers are willing to pay premium prices for craft gin, and the number of new entrants to the market has jumped in recent years. 

Some entrepreneurs have been attracted to the spirits sector as they have recognised that big drinks firms are eying smaller “authentic brands”. Merger and acquisition activity in the sector has been strong. Glasgow whiskey blender Douglas Laing & Co bought Srathearn Distillery in October last year.

Meanwhile, the British Honey Company, which recently bought the assets of the London Distillery Company including the Dodds brand, today announced it has raised £4.25m through a listing on NEX. 

UHY Hacker Young partner James Simmonds said: “The growth in British craft distilling has not stopped yet. Whilst gin sales growth is beginning to taper off, new distillers are still entering the market and M&A deals are being completed.

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“Growth won’t continue forever, but for now, domestic and overseas consumers’ demand for UK craft spirits hasn’t yet been met.

“The trend for authentic local artisan food and drink looks to be here to stay, and that will continue to tempt entrepreneurs and investors into the craft spirits industry.”