England now has more distilleries than Scotland for the first time in history after the craft gin boom drove an increase in spirit makers.
While Scotland has always had the lead when it comes to distilleries because of their popular whisky industry, the popularity of gin has given England the edge.
In 2018 the UK recorded a total of 361 distilleries – of which 166 are in England compared to 160 distilleries based in Scotland, according to new HMRC figures.
The latest HMRC figures reveal that a total of 54 new distilleries opened in 2018 – eight closed – which means that the number of spirit makers increased by 46 last year. Of the 54 new, 39 were for businesses in England, 11 Scotland, two in Wales, and two in Northern Ireland.
Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), Miles Beale, said: “There’s no doubt that the gin boom is behind the majority of new distillery openings in the UK in the last few years. Most of our entrepreneurial craft spirit makers who have launched recently started by making and selling gin. Many of them are now widening their portfolio to include other spirits.
“It lifts the spirits to hear that distillery numbers continue to grow in the UK. It’s not just our gins picking up awards, but we have also seen a growing number of excellent quality English and Welsh whiskies too. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it is extremely reassuring that our talented spirit makers are continuing to innovate, invest and grow. “
The WSTA has claimed that thegin boom has helped the number of UK distilleries to more than double in the last five years with, which meant HMRC issued 31 new distillery licences in England in 2018 compared to just 11 in Scotland.
This was a huge increase from 2017, when Scotland had a total of 149 distilleries beating England’s 135.
Chief Executive of the London Distillery Company, Killian O’Sullivan, said: “Growth in the gin category shows no sign of abating and we were delighted to see a number of English distilleries open in this space.
“Consumers continue to demand innovation across all spirit categories. Our view is that each of the new English distilleries will bring their own unique style and sense of place to the industry which in turn will drive the innovation that consumers have embraced over the last number of years.”