A total of 45 new distilleries were registered across the UK in 2016, with the growth of English sites rapidly outpacing those in Scotland.
The number of distilleries in England has risen 413% in six years
According to HMRC figures released by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), the UK saw a 17% rise in new distilleries last year.
Counting five known license cancellation in 2016 – three in England and two in Scotland – a total of 273 distilleries are registered in the UK, marking 135% growth since 2010.
“From traditional products like Scotch, to the great British gin boom and newer products like English and Welsh whisky, it is an exciting time for spirits producers across the UK,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA.
“Consumers here at home and around the world have developed a real thirst for top quality British spirits, and a new distillery is coming online at the equivalent rate of one per week to rise to that challenge.”
In England, 27 new distillers were registered in 2016, bringing the country’s total to 118 – a 413% increase since 2010. Distilleries in England contributed two-thirds of the 45 new licenses granted last year.
Meanwhile, 12 new distilleries were registered in Scotland, bringing the country’s total to 131 – a 46% increase since 2010.
In Wales, one new distillery was registered last year, bringing its total to 14, but no new distilleries were registered in Northern Ireland, which has a total of 11 distilleries.
The WSTA said the HMRC figures show that the spirits industry is poised to capitalise further on export opportunities in the wake of Brexit.
“As the government negotiates free-trade deals with both Europe and third countries there is a real opportunity for the UK to boost its exporting capacity by trading quality spirits overseas,” added Beale.
“We have already seen how successful and in-demand British gin is to 139 countries around the world. But we believe with the right support the industry can go further to access more markets overseas.”