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Chin-chin to gin as spirit revival continues

Hogarth will be turning in his grave to learn a further 39 distilleries opened up in the UK last year, as the popularity for craft spirits shows little sign of abating.

Gin remains a key driver of micro-distillery growth, especially in urban environments, while Scotland has seen a boom in new whiskey makers.

Other spirits, such as vodka and rum, are also witnessing a surge in interest from those seeking to carve their own niche in the increasingly crowded craft market.

Read more: European whiskey fans in low spirits as Jack Daniel's price to rise

But it is gin, colloquially referred to as “mothers ruin” thanks to its former reputation as a cheap spirit consumed in excess by the poor, which is at the forefront of spirit revival.

With its more recent reputation as a middle-class drink for those with discerning tastes, pubs are increasingly turning to the tipple to replace the explosive sales growth of Prosecco that is now slowing down.

Recent HMRC data shows that sales of spirits in the UK rose to a record high £3.5 billion in 2017, up from £3.3 billion the year before

In total, 201 new distilleries have been opened in the UK in the last five years.

A string of M&A deals offering high multiples for artisan distillers has also been tempting more entrepreneurs to try their hand in spirits.

Read more: That's the (craft) spirit: Distilleries are booming in the UK

James Simmonds, Partner at UHY Hacker Young, says: “The explosive success of the UKs craft spirits industry has allowed boutique brands to sell at higher margins.

“The sales growth of craft spirits is something that big drinks companies, who are suffering from low single digit sales growth, are looking at enviously.

“Many innovative new distillers are experimenting in new and adventurous ways of producing these spirits.

“Craft and artisan gin in particular has seen surges in consumer demand, and new distillers are taking advantage of the relatively quick production process to cash in on the trend.”

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