The chief executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), Miles Beale, praised the UK gin industry this week, declaring its potential as “the next Scotch whisky” industry. He spoke of “the number of craft gins and the way they differentiate themselves” as a reason for this potential. 

Beale’s kind words are certainly welcome and the WSTA’s Drop the Duty Campaign in conjunction with the Scotch Whisky Association and the Tax Payer’s Alliance to reduce the duty on wine and spirits across the board by 2% would help the situation of the 1.1 million people that work directly or indirectly in the wine and spirits industry. 

But we here at the Craft Gin Club argue that this 2% cut - which we support - will not be enough to make the UK gin industry “the next Scotch whisky”. To ensure the success of this industry, the government needs to make life easier for the craft distillers Beale cites that are driving innovation in the industry. We feel that the best and fairest way of doing so is to implement a progressive duty scale that would allow small entrepreneurial distillers to invest more money in their business as opposed to paying it to the Crown.

Currently, independent distillers that have thrown all their chips into their labour of love pay the same duty as large, multinational corporations that produce spirits on an industrial scale. These distillers invest much of their own money not to mention sweat and frustration dealing with convoluted HMRC regulations. The more money they must pay to the government, the less money they have to invest in their spirit innovation, staff and their business in general and the 

So, yes, the WSTA’s Beale is correct in saying that UK gin could be “the next Scotch whisky”. But if the market in which the craft gins he cites operate is not reformed to make it more economical for their entrepreneurial distillers, then the potential of the UK gin industry to become a truly global powerhouse like the Scotch whisky market before it will be significantly impeded. 

We call on the WSTA and Scotch Whisky Association to support our industry petition to introduce a progressive duty structure based on production volume that would lower the tax burden for small distillers. Your support will bring spirits entrepreneurs one step closer to the favourable regulation that they need for the UK gin and spirits industry as a whole to thrive. 

Please visit our petition page and contact us at info at craftginclub dot co dot uk.