Around 1,000 fewer visitors attended last week's London International Wine Fair (LIWF) & partner spirits show Distil, but the figures still represent the second best year on record, according to organising body Brintex.

A total of 13,893 trade professionals visited the three-day shows compared to 14,903 in 2008, Brintex said today (19 May).

The figures, although down on the previous year, still represent the second highest total in the 29-year history of LIWF.

"Despite the best efforts of the UK recession, global economic collapse and the threat of swine flu, we've seen excellent results," said event director James Murray.

Several exhibitors told just-drinks that LIWF, although appearing quieter than in previous years, had still proven useful.

"I wish we could get this kind of quality [of visitors] every year," said Ross Sleet, sales and marketing manager for South African wine producer Kleine Zalze.

Some visitors were more sceptical about Distil, which was held for only the second year after organisers decided to separate the wine and spirits arms of the trade fair. A number of visitors questioned whether Distil would survive, given the absence of several big names, including Pernod Ricard and Whyte & Mackay.

Murray remained positive about the spirits fair: "Distil, which welcomed 6,190 visitors over the three days, has strengthened its position as the dedicated spirits event to the trade and exhibitors throughout both events have been really positive about the future."