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UK distillery numbers hit record high in 2020

The number of distilleries in the UK reached a record high in 2020, with more than 100 new registrations, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

More than 100 new distilleries were registered in the UK last year

New HMRC figures cited by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) found that the number of UK distilleries increased by 124 in 2020, up 28% compared with 2019. The increase marked the first time the number of distilleries has risen by more than 100.

The total number of distilleries registered in the UK now stands at 563.

England’s distillery numbers have topped 300 for the first time, with 311 registered in the region as of 2020. The number of distilleries in England has almost tripled since 2016.

Scotland has increased its number of distilleries to 214, and Wales and Northern Ireland saw distillery numbers grow too.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “It’s heartwarming to find a positive story from the gloom of 2020 – and our bold and growing band of distillers have delivered once again. The record number of new distilleries opening across the UK is great news and helps provide jobs and a real boost to local economies.”

As the number of spirits producers in the UK continues to rise, the WSTA is calling on the government to better support the distilling industry.

The WSTA has issued further calls for UK chancellor Rishi Sunak to support the spirits and hospitality sectors through the Covid-19 pandemic through duty and value added tax (VAT) cuts.

Beale added: “With such a difficult 2020 behind us and a daunting challenge to recover in 2021, our distillers need the support of the chancellor at the upcoming budget. A freeze at the last budget certainly helped distillers to invest and grow, but we need the chancellor to go further this time, with both a duty cut and an extension of the VAT reduction in hospitality venues, until at least March 2022 – and including alcoholic drinks.

“Distillers across the UK will play a vital role in 2021 and beyond as hospitality begins to open up again, and by showing his support for distillers at the budget, the chancellor can also promote the hospitality industry as it rebounds from Covid-19 restrictions.”

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