THE figures are in and it's official – we are a nation of gin lovers. New data from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has revealed that UK sales of gin at Christmas are now equivalent to a bottle for every adult in the UK.

Britons bought 51 million bottles of the spirit, known colloquially as Mother's Ruin, last year, and sales were up by £104 million this Christmas compared with the previous year, industry body the WSTA said.

The figure is 27 per cent higher in volume, the equivalent of more than nine and a half million more bottles, than 2016. Over 16 million bottles of gin, worth £413 million, were sold in the 12 weeks to the end of December – an extra three and a half million bottles bought or 28 per cent in volume on the 2016 festive season.

The rapid growth in distilleries and the increasing number of gin brands arriving on the market last year helped the record-breaking sales.

Scottish gins riding high include Hendricks, which was credited for setting the standard back in 1999, with a new crop of brands such as Pickerings, Airbikie, Rock Rose, Strathearn and Persie Distillery all using infusions and suggesting pairings with speciality tonics, or as the base of cocktails.

Britain's love for the tipple made gin a popular gift this Christmas, along with a wide range of gin-themed gifts such as gin baubles, gin advent calendars and gin glassware.

Last year was also a record-breaking year for British gin exports, which broke the £500 million barrier to hit £530 million in value sales.

There are now 315 distilleries in the UK, more than double the number that were operating five years ago.

There are now well over 100 British gin brands on the market, a doubling of the number since 2011.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: "We were amazed by the growth of gin in 2016, but 2017 sales of the quintessentially British spirit have surpassed all records again.

"At the WSTA we are constantly being asked what is the magic formula behind the growth in gin sales. It is a delightful combination of a quality British product steeped in history combined with skilful innovation by UK distillers who are producing a huge range of gins catering for the consumers' increasingly sophisticated palettes.

"The versatility of gin with its diverse use of botanicals means there is now a gin out there for everyone. The popularity of giving gin as a gift means we are expecting sparkling sales for Mother's Day."