British gin sales have reached highest ever level in 2016 as drinkers spend £1BILLION

Brits’ thirst for gin saw them down the equivalent of 1.12 billion G&Ts this year, topping £1bn in sales for the first time.

The mark was reached six months ahead of forecasts, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said.

Sales have grown more than any other spirit sold in UK pubs , bars and restaurants and are up 19% on last year to a value of £619million, while the amount sold in shops, supermarkets and off licences is up 13%, to a value of £437million.

A total of 40 new distilleries opened in the UK between January and November, a rapid expansion from the 116 in operation in 2010, according to HMRC figures.

WSTA said 283,000 hectolitres of gin, the equivalent of 40 million bottles, have been sold in the UK over the last 12 months, the equivalent of 1.12 billion G&Ts.

British gin is now sold in 139 countries around the world, with America, Canada, Spain and Germany buying the most.

WSTA said UK gin brands had benefited from the US love for shows such as Downton Abbey and the James Bond franchise, helping to sell £159million worth of British gin to the Americans last year.

A bartender pouring gin into a glass

40 new gin distilleries opened in the UK between January and November this year

British gin exports to the US have increased by 553% in the last decade, the report said.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “There are many reasons why people may not feel like celebrating 2016 but the WSTA are pleased to give you something happy to reflect on – 2016 can now be remembered as the ‘Great British Gin Take Off’.

“We hope that government supports our innovative gin makers who have driven an extraordinary increase in UK exports, up 166% since 2000.”

He added: “We would like to remind government that cutting excise duty boosts business and brings more money into the Treasury.

Gin being poured into a glass

British gin exports to the US have reportedly increased by 553% in the last decade

“The UK spirit industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe with 76% of a bottle of spirits accounted for by tax, the fourth highest duty rate for spirits in the EU.

“Let’s make sure gin continues to boom in 2017.”

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