The Wine and Spirit Trade Association visited Madrid this week to share some of the gin gems from all corners of the British Isles.
In a joint event with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the WSTA invited Spanish importers and gin enthusiasts to the British Ambassador’s residence to sample some of the latest creations crafted by the UK’s top distillers.
From seaweed infused gin made in the Shetland Isles to Lavender gin made in Yorkshire, down to the City of London where gin comes in bottles designed to look like St Paul’s Cathedral and ending up on the south coast in Sussex for gin made from grape skins – British gin makers put on a sparkling showcase.
British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley CMG, generously opened up his home to host the gin fest in support the British distillers’ and their ambitious plans to expand their export markets.
In 2016 Britain exported the equivalent of 29 million bottles of gin to Spain worth £94milllion.This was a 10% value increase on 2012. The volume of British gin exported to Spain has increased by 25% since 2012.
Gin has proved to be a firm favourite with the Spanish and makes up a third of all UK spirit products exported to Spain.
Whilst total UK spirit exports have decreased over the last 5 years, gin is bucking the trend and total British gin exports have increased 32% by value to £475m, a fifth of that value comes from Spain.
Simon Manley said:
“I was delighted to host such an innovative group of distilleries, covering the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. I hope we will soon see their excellent gins in the supermarkets, bars and restaurants of Spain.”
Trade Association colleagues across the Channel have vowed to keep the “special relationship” with the UK wine and spirit industries and join the fight for a free trade agreement.
Partnering with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), spiritsEUROPE and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins, the WSTA suggested that it was up to industry to nail down key issues and together the associations have signed up to a joint Brexit position paper.
Despite the successes of the British gin industry, British government continues to punish its entrepreneurial gin makers with excessively high duty rates. In the UK, 76% of the money paid for an average priced bottle of spirits goes straight to the Treasury. The UK’s spirit duty rate is 4.3 times higher than Spain’s, for example.
This is not just punishing on the public’s purse, but it is holding back some British spirit makers, making it harder to invest in their business and take advantage of new opportunities overseas.
In the last two years we have seen 89 new distilleries opening in the UK bringing the total up to 273, according HMRC records.
A large majority of these are SME’s who are pushing the boundaries through innovation to secure a place in this competitive market. The hugely unfair tax burdens facing these start-ups mean that cash flow is severely restricts small businesses.
Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“British gin is the fastest growing spirits category in the UK. The UK exports more gin to Spain than to anywhere else in Europe. It is beneficial for both governments to secure tariff free trade deals for their wines and spirits.
The WSTA has been working closely with our European trade partners on what is a shared ambition for a frictionless Brexit.
Closer to home, we are calling for the Chancellor Philip Hammond to support the British gin industry by freezing spirit duty at the Budget on 22nd November. Gin is a standout British success story, and its potential could be a tonic for UK exporting. It needs support from government though – freezing excuse duty and abolishing automatic annual rises would be a good start.”