Northumberland distiller has the spirit for international export

Moorland Spirit Company's Nick Strangeway, Chris Garden, Walter Riddell and Valentine Warner.
Moorland Spirit Company's Nick Strangeway, Chris Garden, Walter Riddell and Valentine Warner.

Thanks to strong global demand for British gin, Northumberland distillery Moorland Spirit Co. is looking to increase its international sales further.

The distiller, which only began exporting two years ago, currently sells its flagship drink, Hepple Gin, to five markets abroad, including Germany, India and the US.

Export revenue has grown by 400 per cent this financial year and exports currently account for 31 per cent of the company’s annual turnover.

The business received support to help it break into new markets from International Trade Advisers (ITAs) as part of the Food is GREAT campaign, a cross-departmental initiative to showcase UK food and drink overseas.

To assist Moorland Spirit Co. in entering the US market, ITAs introduced the distillery to a partner which helped it navigate US legal requirements, including details such as product labelling.

The business began shipping to the US in May 2018 and has since seen its gin stocked in 200 retailers and licensed venues across New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts. It has plans to expand its reach in the US market, which imported £193million worth of UK gin in the year to September 2018.

The distiller has also been working with its North East-based ITAs at the Department for International Trade (DIT) and their colleagues based at the British High Commission in New Delhi to develop its presence in the Indian market. In February, the business will travel to the country to exhibit its products at the Vault Spirits Biennale in Mumbai.

Chris Garden, head distiller, Moorland Spirit Co., said: “Exporting was always part of our business strategy. With such a high volume of quality British gin distillers, the UK is probably one of the toughest gin markets in the world for a new distillery to get traction. Exporting means we can access new avenues for growth.

“Our gin is now being served to customers in the US – including in one of the world’s top 50 bars, Dead Rabbit in New York City.

“DIT connected us with a partner that could help us address some of the US’ legal requirements for market entry and were able to offer some funding to help us meet the cost of the partner’s services.

“The US has a few barriers that we had to consider. It has its own requirements for product labelling, and rules about the bottle size – the standard bottle size for spirits in the US is 750ml, whereas in the UK it’s 700ml. Details like these have meant we’ve had to redesign our packaging to make sure everything complies, but if we can export, others can too.”

David Coppock, head of regions – North East, at the DIT, said: “Global demand for British gin is on the up – according to statistics from HMRC, the UK’s gin exports totalled £596.7million in the year to September 2018, a rise of 16.3 per cent on the previous 12 months.

“This demand is creating opportunities for distillers across the North East, and we’re offering our support to help more businesses in the region start or grow their export activity. This includes places on trade missions to overseas markets, as well as one-to-one guidance from our network of ITAs on everything from logistics to tax.”

Firms looking for support should contact 0345 136 0169 or email northeast@mobile.trade.gov.uk