The UK gained 54 new distilleries in 2023 compared to the previous year, a new report shows.

The number of registered distilleries in the UK jumped to 387 last year, up 8.7% on 2022, according to UK-based accountancy group UHY Hacker Young. The number is now 42.8% higher than before Covid.

England alone was home to 48 new distilleries, up from 40 registrations in 2022. Scotland saw three distillery launches in 2023 following eight registrations the year before.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “The premium prices consumers are willing to pay for higher margin, luxury brands is seeing both entrepreneurs and bigger spirits companies continue to rush to capitalise on the market. Spirits, including whisky, have been one of the UK’s success stories.

“The expectation is that, longer term, there is much more growth to come in the UK’s heritage spirits brands.”

UK drinks exports increased by 13% in 2023, from £8.3bn ($10.4bn) in 2021/22 to £9.4bn in 2022/23, the government tax department HMRC reported.

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The export of spirits makes up a significant proportion of the total value, with whisky now accounting for over a quarter of all UK food and drink exports at a value of £5.6bn in 2023, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

“Strong levels of demand are seeing new distillers continue to enter the market, while savvy entrepreneurs in the business are also taking advantage of additional revenue streams such as distillery tours and tastings,” Simmonds added.

“During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, people found themselves looking to recreate a bar experience at home and treat themselves to artisanal spirits. Interestingly, this taste for luxury has not tapered off – it’s only got stronger.”