HomeBussinessEngland boosts UK distillery numbers - The Spirits Business

England boosts UK distillery numbers – The Spirits Business

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The number of registered distilleries in the UK climbed by 8.7% last year, driven by new English producers.

Port of Leith distillery in Scotland, UK
The first vertical whisky distillery in the UK, Port of Leith, opened last year in Edinburgh

The UK welcomed 54 new distilleries in 2023 to reach a total of 387 (up from 356 distilleries in 2022), according to national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

The number of distilleries in England soared by a fifth to 48 sites registered in 2023, up from 40 in 2022.

Scotland and Northern Ireland each saw an increase of three new distilleries last year, while Wales’ distillery numbers remained the same.

Among some of the new UK producers were Edinburgh-based Port of Leith, which opened its new £12 million (US$14.5m) distillery last year.

Meanwhile, Ad Gefrin launched a £14m (US$17.5m) whisky distillery and museum in Northumberland, England.

Titanic Distillers also become the first working whiskey distillery in Belfast in almost 90 years when it opened last summer.

According to HMRC data for the year ending 31 July 2023, UK drinks exports rose by 13% to £9.4 billion (US$11.8bn), up from £8.3bn (US$10.4bn) in 2021/22.

Citing data from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), UHY noted that whisky now accounts for more than a quarter of all UK food and drink exports at a value of £5.6bn (US$7bn) in 2023.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “The premium prices consumers are willing to pay for higher margin, luxury brands is seeing both entrepreneurs and bigger spirits companies continue to rush to capitalise on the market. Spirits, including whisky, have been one of the UK’s success stories.

“The expectation is that, longer term, there is much more growth to come in the UK’s heritage spirits brands.

“Strong levels of demand are seeing new distillers continue to enter the market, while savvy entrepreneurs in the business are also taking advantage of additional revenue streams such as distillery tours and tastings.”

Scotch whisky exports were up by 14% by value last year when compared with 2019 figures, the SWA revealed. However, the figures are a decrease on 2022, which was described as a ‘bumper’ year.

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