News story

Gin exports set to increase as drink experiences UK revival

The UK gin industry is experiencing a revival, boosted by government backing to help producers export more of the drink abroad.

Sipsmith gin
Image courtesy of Sipsmith

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today spoke of her ambition to see our booming gin industry match whisky exports, which topped £4 billion in 2014, as she visited Beefeater and Sipsmith distilleries in London.

A total of 1.6 billion gin and tonics were sold globally in 2014, seeing the UK take the top spot as the world’s leading exporter of gin. Further boosting exports of this unique spirit will bring jobs, investment and billions into the UK’s growing economy.

The government’s approach to supporting the industry includes:

  • opening more than 135 new international food and drink markets since 2014 – which has helped see the gin industry export to a record 139 countries;
  • cutting duty on gin by two per cent earlier this year in the March Budget;
  • working with industry to make sure our fantastic gin is served at our key overseas embassies, alongside other traditional British food and drink;
  • appointing Karen Morgan, the UK’s first ever food counsellor in China, to open up greater food and drink exports in this important market;
  • releasing record amounts of data to support small businesses, including satellite imagery that could be used to pinpoint the purest water sources for distillation; and
  • working with industry to develop a 25 year plan to boost productivity and growth in the food and drink sectors.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

There is a huge opportunity for British gin makers to export more of our first-class products across the globe. Traditional distillers like Beefeater trade on the proud history of this quintessentially British drink and it’s fantastic to also see innovators like Sipsmith, pioneering new techniques and contributing to British gin being enjoyed worldwide.

This is fertile ground with enormous opportunities. There is absolutely no reason why our gin trade can’t be as successful as whisky, which made £4 billion for our economy last year. I want to harness the ambition of our ‘gin-trepreneurs’ and see them match that in years to come, helping us and building a stronger one nation economy for the UK.

We will continue to unleash the creative spirit of our food and drink entrepreneurs by giving them the freedom, the technology, the research and the people to think big, take risks and build profitable businesses.

The US, Spain, Germany and Canada enjoyed more than 1 billion British gin and tonics last year and the government is targeting growing markets like India, Brazil and the Far East. In Beijing, the UK’s first ever food counsellor, Karen Morgan, is working to open new Chinese markets and opportunities.

A record number of micro-distilleries are revolutionising the craft gin industry in this country. Between 2010 and 2014 a total of 73 new spirit distilleries opened in the UK - with 56 set up in the past two years. The number of UK gin brands has also doubled since 2010 from 31 to 73 due to the demand for new brands using locally sourced ingredients and natural botanicals.

Sam Galsworthy, Co-founder of Sipsmith, said:

Having inherited 200 years of gin distilling history, we wanted this to be reflected at every stage in the development of our gin, but it is important that as an industry we constantly evolve and innovate to ensure that we create new and unique recipes that are loved the world over. In this way, we embrace the old ways while harnessing the new which makes for a potent and characterful combination.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

This is an extremely exciting time for all the UK gin industry. 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.

Damian Hinds, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

It’s great to see this truly British drink has become more and more popular both at home and overseas. In the March Budget the government cut the duty on gin by two per cent and we will continue to show our support for this innovative and exciting industry.

Across Scotland, where 70 per cent of the UK’s gin is produced, gin distilleries are also drawing from a rich tradition of whisky-making to create unique recipes that are putting our industry ahead of the game.

Bruichladdich distillery, on the Island of Islay, has added 22 handpicked wild herbs and flowers, including heather, spearmint and white clover, to create its award-winning Islay Dry Gin.

Gin is the latest in a long list of export successes for the UK—food and drink exports were worth nearly £19 billion last year and food and drink remains the country’s biggest manufacturing sector, with the food chain contributing £103 billion a year to our economy and employing one in eight people.

Published 10 August 2015