Local distillery can continue to grow and innovate with a stable duty regime. 

Local MP, David Rutley, was recently invited to meet with Mr Karl and Lindsay Bond, owners of the award-winning Forest Distillery, to learn more about recent successful developments with their business.

Karl and Lindsay were also keen to win the support of David Rutley MP for the UK Spirits Alliance. The campaign calls for a fairer duty regime for the UK’s growing spirits industry, recognising that a stable duty system delivers investment, growth and money for the public purse.

During the meeting, David heard that the local distillery, which is highly regarded for its Forest Gin, and boasts both a gin and whisky distillery, has been expanding recently due to an increase in demand for its high-quality spirits. The business began in 2014 with just Mr and Mrs Bond and they launched their whisky distilling arm in 2018, as one of only a handful of firms in England to receive such a licence. Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Forest Distillery have recently doubled their staff from five members to ten.

The distillery has also expanded its premises to include the iconic Cat and Fiddle Pub which, at 1,200ft above sea level, will become the UK’s highest altitude whisky distillery. At this site, they also have a shop selling local produce and have plans to expand to include a pub and events space. This will be a major boost in helping to strengthen the local visitor economy. The recently expanded distillery is now open for bookings and anyone wishing to book a visit can do so on the following link – https://www.theforestdistillery.com.

It was explained at the meeting that the Spirits sector in the UK has been facing recent challenges with tariffs imposed by the United States. Whilst tariffs have not yet been imposed on UK gin, a move welcomed by Forest Distillery, a 25% tariff remains in place on whisky and this will continue to pose challenges in the months ahead. Mr Bond asked David to raise their concerns with Government Ministers.

After the meeting, David said “I am pleased to see Forest Distillery’s ongoing success first-hand, they are a great example of a local export success story. It was positive to learn how the Government’s decision to freeze the duty on spirits in the last budget has enabled the distillery to grow, take on more staff, and expand to the landmark Cat and Fiddle pub. This will help create a distinctive destination for our local visitor economy and I wish Karl and Lindsay continued success in all their endeavours.”

Karl Bond from The Forest Distillery said: “It was good of David to come back to our distillery to discuss our growth and the challenges we still face. We’re really proud of the spirits we produce, so it’s great to have the support of our local community.

“We have asked David to take the message back to Westminster that the best way to support businesses like ours across the country would be to ensure the tax on spirits doesn’t rise in the budget, which would certainly slow our expansion and recruitment plans.”

A spokesman for the UK Spirits Alliance said: “It’s great to see MPs across the country recognising that the UK spirits industry is a great British success story. Lowering spirits duty creates more jobs, more money for the public purse, and boosts the UK economy.”

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