British gin exports to US rise 553% in the last decade

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Gin

2016 has been a ‘record breaking year for UK gin’ with the spirit continuing to grow in popularity in the country. Meanwhile, the popularity of Downton Abbey and James Bond has helped boost exports to the US. 

British gin now accounts for 3 in 4 bottles of gin imported around the world, reaching 139 countries.

Gin at home…

In the UK, gin has expanded its reach from a summer tipple to one that is enjoyed throughout the year, including over the festive season, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). In fact, 283,000 hectoliters – or 40 million bottles – were sold in the UK this year.

This equates to 1.12bn gin and tonics.

Gin sales in pubs, bars and restaurants were up 19% in 2016 (12 months to 1/10/2016) compared to the same period last year, with sales worth £619m ($779m).

In the off trade, sales were up 13% in shops, supermarkets and off licences (12 months to 5/11/16) worth £437m ($550m).

Gin broke the £1bn sales mark earlier this year. The WSTA says that on trade sales of gin have grown double digit for six consecutive quarters, outperforming every other spirits category.

Gin’s success comes in a market where consumers are being more discerning with their choices and drinking more responsibly, says the WSTA.

“With the market shrinking and gin sales booming it shows more and more customers are choosing premium products, like gin, as their chosen tipple.”

‘Quintessentially British’: gin abroad

Exports are another high point for the UK’s gin industry: 3 out of 4 bottles of gin imported around the globe are from the UK. British gin is sold overseas in 139 countries, with the most demand coming from the US, Canada, Spain and Germany.


  • Ingredients that have been used in British gin include conkers, grape skins, acorns, ants, seaweed, meat and lobster.
  • A gin and tonic drizzle cake featured in the Great British Bake Off.
  • Contestants in The Apprentice (UK) were set the task of creating a new gin brand last week, with Lord Sugar calling it the ‘spirit of the moment’.
  • James Bond’s Vesper Martini, as specified by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale, contains three measures of gin and one of vodka.
  • The WSTA launched a Scotland gin trail​ this year.
    gin G&T

British exports of gin to the US have risen by 553% in the last 10 years.

“UK gin brands have benefited from America’s love for hit shows like Downton Abbey and the James Bond franchise: helping to sell £159m ($200m) worth of British gin to the US in 2015,” ​says the WSTA.

‘The Great British Gin Take Off’

Figures from HMRC estimated there were 116 distilleries in the UK in 2010.

Now, close to 100 new distilleries opened in the UK in 2015 and 2016 alone.

Miles Beale, chief executive, WSTA, dubs 2016 as the year of the ‘Great British Gin Take Off’.

He calls on the government to support gin producers, saying that cutting excise duty boosts business and brings more money into the Treasury.

“Following the cut in spirits duty in the 2015 budget, spirits duty income increased on the previous year by £125m (+4.1%) from April 2015 to March 2016 inclusive.

“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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