Research carried out by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young said the “growing demand” is largely spurred on by young consumers.
Last year 39 new distilleries were opened in the UK. Over the five years prior to that, the number of distilleries in Britain had already more than doubled.
Distilleries rose in number from 131 in 2016 to 170 in 2017, reflecting an increased appetite for unusual flavours and local spirits produced by boutique distilleries.
“The UK spirits industry is currently in growth mode and shows no signs of slowing, as illustrated by the increase in new distillery businesses,” said UHY Hacker Young partner James Simmonds.
“As the public demand for artisan drinks and craft drinks continues, many pubs that previously stocked only one brand of each spirit are now giving customers a variety to choose from.”
The high sales growth and premium pricing generated by independent brands has led to a spate of acquisitions by established alcohol companies.
New craft rum brands such as the English Spirit Distillery’s Old Salt Rum and Spirit Masters’ Glorious Revolution White Rum have capitalised on changing consumer tastes.
According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, rum sales jumped from £960m in 2016 to £1bn in 2017.
“Craft spirits are considered a luxury item that many customers are now willing to pay a premium for,” added Simmonds.
“This allows boutique brands to sell at higher margins and generate large returns.”