In what’s being described as the most significant price surge in nearly half a century, Forest of Dean’s sole distillery, Woodside Distillery, is grappling with the repercussions of the new Alcohol Duty Hike.
The Coleford distillery's founders Jason Morgan and Jessica Howells, who embarked on their business journey amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, now confront another challenging financial hurdle.
Effective from 1st August, manufacturers of cider, beer, wine, and spirits will shoulder their heaviest Duty increase in almost 50 years.
The Wine and Spirits Trade Association has voiced their disappointment, lamenting the Chancellor’s decision as one that risks undermining British businesses and burdening UK consumers already facing financial constraints.
Reflecting on their journey, Jessica Howells said: “Starting from scratch in such turbulent times was never going to be an easy feat.
However, seeing where we stand today is a testament to our perseverance.” Jason Morgan added, “It’s not just daily operations; the escalating costs of electricity, bottles, and botanicals, exacerbated post the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have added to our challenges. Now, this Duty increase is another hit to our earnings.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) anticipates that alcohol duties will yield £12.7 billion for the fiscal year 2022/2023, making up an estimated 1.3 per cent of all tax revenues.
Detailing the impact on the Milestone Walk-based distillery, Morgan explained, “For each of our 70cl bottles with an ABV of 40 per cent, the duty was £8.05. With the revised rate, this climbs to £8.86, a 0.81p increase per bottle.
"This translates to an additional 2 per cent of our revenue being diverted to HMRC. Despite this, we’re steadfast in our decision not to raise our prices, a tribute to our dedicated customers.”
This financial shift couldn’t have come at a more challenging time for the duo.
Having recently moved to a purpose-built distillery, they had high hopes of elevating their enterprise.
They remain resolute, however, in navigating these financial setbacks without compromising their commitment to quality and affordability.