British drinkers quaffed record amounts of gin this year, with sales topping the £1billion mark for the first time.
Sales of gin in pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK in the past year increased by 19 per cent on a year ago, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said.
In supermarkets, shops and off-licenses, gin sales climbed by 13 per cent to around £437million over the last 12 months.
Popular: British drinkers quaffed record amounts of gin this year, with sales topping the £1billion mark for the first time
Around 40million bottlees of gin have been sold in the UK in the past year, the equivalent of 1.12billion gin and tonics, the WSTA said.
Compared to 2012, this year’s gin sales have gone up by the equivalent of an extra 7million bottles.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, 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: ‘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 4th highest duty rate for spirits in the EU.
‘Let’s make sure gin continues to boom in 2017.’
Surging sales: British gin exports to the US have increased by 553 per cent in the past decade
Gin – which is also known as ‘mother’s ruin’ – now comes in an ever-expanding range of flavours including rhubarb, cocoa and raspberry.
The WSTA said it had seen gins made using ‘conkers, skins, acorns, ants and seaweed’ this year.
According to HM Revenue & Customs data, 40 new distilleries opened in the UK between January and November, a rapid expansion from the 116 in operation in 2010.
British gin exports to the US have increased by 553 per cent in the past decade, reaching £159million in 2015, the WSTA said.
But, an industry expert, who does not wish to be named, told This is Money the WSTA’s claim of a 553 per cent increase in UK gin exports is ‘open to question.’
The UK’s alcohol industry is worth around £39billion in sales and there are currently roughly 470 vineyards and 135 wineries across the country.