Magnetic Brands Dave Steward & Matt Mckee

Magnetic Brands’ Dave Steward (left) & Matt Mckee

Two drinks industry veterans have set up a distributor to tap Brits’ growing thirst for high-end and craft spirits.

Dave Steward and Matt Mckee this week launched Magnetic Brands to distribute and market overseas craft spirits brands in the UK.

Retailers increasingly saw the value of “premium-niche” tipples, said Steward, who has almost 30 years experience in the drinks industry. “There is opportunity to work with retailers to promote and develop premium craft spirits. And there are consumers who want them,” he added.

Looking for drinks priced £35 and above, Magnetic’s first client is the “truly amazing” abv Italian malt whisky Puni (rsp: £56/70cl), with Northern Poland’s Vestal Vodka set to follow in September (rsp: £69/70cl). Both are 43% abv.

“There are a whole bunch of people around the world making really interesting craft spirits. We’re on hand to help them find route to market,” said Steward.

The UK’s impending departure from the EU wouldn’t hinder Shoreditch-based Magnetic’s growth plans, even if it meant import taxes on overseas goods, he insisted.

“The UK has a robust premium spirits industry and consumers who understand prices might rise but are still willing to pay.”

Magnetic’s launch comes as new HMRC figures showed sales of spirits brought more money to the public purse than beer for the first time in the most recently ended financial year. Duty from spirits rose 7% to £3.4bn against beer’s £3.3bn in 2016/17, earning the Treasury an extra £225m in duty from spirits sales.