UK spirits – our iconic national drinks – have faced a difficult trading environment as export markets have been hit, punitive tariffs remain on Scotch Whisky and the damage to hospitality has been significant.

As the UK look to recover from Covid-19, we ask the Chancellor to support our growth industry in three ways in the upcoming Budget: 

Continue to support our distilleries as the invest and innovate to back British growth and continue to deliver funds to the public purse. 

Support our iconic UK hospitality sector with targeted measures to help businesses and employees in pubs, bars and restaurants, including furlough, ongoing direct support for businesses, and business rate relief.

Progress with the Alcohol Duty Review to create a fairer system that supports both growth and puts HMT revenue on a sustainable footing for the future.

Spirits contributed almost £4 billion to HM Treasury receipts in 2019 and are responsible for more than £6 billion in UK exports a year as premium products highly valued in both established and developing markets including the US, China and India.

Government must now back the industry and the sections of the economy it supports by backing this growth industry with a reformed duty system, tackling the unfair tariffs and support our iconic hospitality industry.

The UK spirits industry spans the length and breadth of the country. The number of distilleries in the UK has grown from 190 to 710 in the last five years alone. 

In the March 2020 Budget, the government recognised our contribution to the economy by freezing duty. As a result, revenues for the public purse are expected to increase. But now more needs to be done to support recovery and protect jobs. 

Despite recent freezes, the tax burden on UK spirits is 70 per cent on a typical £14 bottle of gin or whisky.

Since October 2019, 25 percent tariffs have been applied to Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and liqueurs by the US, our biggest export market. This has cost the UK £500 million and counting in lost exports, placing a very heavy economic burden on our iconic Scotch Whisky producers.