Small and craft spirits producers are to get their own voice when a new Association is launched in September, reflecting the growing interest in boutique distilling in the United Kingdom. The British and International Distillers' Association (BIDA) will lobby on behalf of small boutique and craft distillers, will market and promote them and will organise tastings and events to promote their products. The new Association will be focused on the United Kingdom but membership will be open to any small or craft distiller aiming to sell spirits in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The new Association has been created by international whisky writer Dominic Roskrow, who will run it along with his wife, marketing director Sally Roskrow, who will take day to day control of it. Speaking about the new association, Dominic Roskrow said: "These are exciting times for distilling and it is clear that there is a need for a dedicated Association to provide a UK representation for the growing wave of craft distillers.
"In America there are more than 400 craft distillers making a wide variety of dynamic drinks and while the United Kingdom will never sustain that number, there is a growing surge of interest in boutique distilling, not just here but across the world. Australia and Sweden, for example, are both making spirits that would be of interest to the British consumer.
The new Association will have four main functions:
* To lobby on issues relevant to a small distiller wishing to trade in the UK market, such as tax stamp exemption or reform for small distillers and clarity on excise duty and other barriers to craft distilling
* To market and promote a positive image of craft distilling in areas such as responsible drinking, quality over quantity, craftsmanship, tourism, job creation, tax generation and regionalism
* To organise events, exhibitions and tastings to promote a new wave of craft distilling
* To provide a trade forum for discussion and debate on issues relevant to members, and to offer advice, support and help for members and potential members
BIDA will seek associate partners in the pub, restaurant and hotel trade to help champion craft distillers and will highlight human interest distilling stories to attract consumer media coverage through an online magazine and regular press releases. The association intends to work alongside existing trade associations in the interests of its members. BIDA is due to meet The Scotch Whisky Association to discuss how they might work together, is in conversation with The Distilleries Council of the United States and already has the support of The American Distilling Institute, The Tasmanian Distillers' Association and the New Zealand Whisky Company as well as whisky distillers in England and companies such as Compass Box.
"There are of course other trade associations representing drinks producers in Britain but none that put the needs of small producers wishing to sell in the UK market at the top of their agenda" commented Dominic Roskrow. "We hope that existing Associations will welcome BIDA as a complimentary force for good and work with us as we move forward. Indeed from early conversations I am greatly encouraged that this will be the case."
The new Association is now open to potential members but will go 'live' on September 1st. Membership will be open to distilleries producing 140,000 litres of spirit per annum or less, but there will also be associate membership levels open to bigger companies linked to the distilling industry and to hotels, restaurants and bars. Plans for the Association include a ' starter pack' for would-be distillers, and themed weeks featuring different spirits genres.