Independent UK distillers’ sales fall in 2021
Revenues for the top 20 independent UK distillers fell 9% in 2021, £1.5 billion ($1.82 billion) in 2020 to £1.35 billion ($1.63 billion) last year.
Whiskey producers were hit hard by the U.S. tariff, so among the hardest hit, we find whiskey distillers’ sales last year.
According to data from accounting group UHY Hacker Young, revenue for the 20 distilleries fell from £1.5 billion ($1.82 billion) in 2020 to £1.35 billion ($1.63 billion) last year.
Whiskey distillery sales were hit by a 25% import tariff on single malt introduced by the U.S. at the end of 2019.
The U.S. is the largest importer of Scotch whisky, receiving 31.8% of all Scotch exported, according to data from the Scotch Whisky Association. This tariff caused a significant drop in revenue for the largest independent distillers, UHY Hacker Young noted.
Restrictions on international travel during the pandemic also led to a decline in whisky sales at airport duty-free stores.
James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, says: “It’s been a really difficult year for the major independent distilleries: the tariffs on Scotch whisky in the US have hit them hard. This happened at the same time as the closure of duty-free pubs and stores, which made things very difficult for a while.”
UHY Hacker Young expects independent distilleries to see revenue growth in the coming year due to the removal of tariffs on whiskey by the U.S. in June 2021 and the end of pandemic restrictions.
Gin, rum and diversified spirits distilleries saw revenues rise 12% last year, from £221.9 million ($269 million) in 2020 to £245 million ($297 million) in 2021.
Simmonds added: “The future looks brighter, with tariffs lifted and the pandemic overcome. Independent distillers can expect further growth.
“What independent gin and rum distilleries have to do is continue to maintain consumer enthusiasm for their products.
“Gin and rum distilleries did quite well during the pandemic. They avoided the effects of trade wars and benefited from consumers drinking spirits at home while the pubs were closed.”
Scotch whisky exports returned to double-digit growth last year, but failed to reach pre-pandemic levels.
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