HMRC figures show gin exports have almost doubled since 2008 – when they were worth £258m – thanks to a dramatic surge in the popularity of the juniper-based spirit.
Figures are set to rocket further, with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) predicting the overall value of the segment will reach £2bn by the end of 2018.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “It has been another phenomenal year of export growth for our British gin producers."
‘A British spirit’
He continued: “There’s no doubt that those overseas are drawn to the quality of gin made here – but gin is also a quintessentially British spirit, and perfect for anyone looking to tap into 'Brand Britain' overseas.”
As the largest worldwide exporter of gin, and with potential for further growth, there are calls for “Government support to increase exports to developed markets” upon leaving the EU.
“Removal of tariffs would allow Britain to maintain its position as the world's largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs,” Beale added.
Spain imported more than £100m of British gin last year, which is almost half of the £254m EU export sales. North America is the next largest market for British gin, which bought up £206m-worth.
Closer to home, a YouGov poll found gin to be the UK’s favourite spirit.
As a nation, Brits drank over 1.32bn G&Ts in 2017, bolstering sales by 20% on 2016 levels and leading experts to predict the boom is set to stay.
Increasing number of distilleries
The latest sales figures correlate with the increasing number of distilleries opening in the UK.
In 2017, 49 distilleries opened, driven by the ‘ginaissance’. In London alone, there are 24 gin distilleries, more than the total number that existed in the whole of England less than 10 years ago.
Gin’s nearest competitor in 2017 was rum, which saw sales increase by 18% in volume. Rum sales were expected to exceed £1bn last year.
Fears over the continuing growth of spirit sales were eased in the November Budget as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, froze spirits duty.