Scottish drinks industry toasts Burns Night boom

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Burns Night has boosted global exports of whisky, gin and beer
Burns Night has boosted global exports of whisky, gin and beer
Burns Night has delivered a multimillion-pound global boost for Scottish alcoholic beverages, revealed environment secretary Andrea Leadsom, as the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) revealed whisky adds £5bn a year to the UK economy.

The celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns’s birthday on January 25 has boosted the world’s thirst, not just for whisky, but also beers and gin from Scotland.

Whisky exports grew by 1.5% to £2.8bn between January and September 2016. Scottish beer and gin exports also grew significantly.

Between January and October 2016, exports of beer rose 16% from £413M in 2015 to £479M, while £392M worth of gin was exported – an increase of 11% over the same period in 2015.

Leadsom said: “Scotch whisky is a driving force of the UK food and drink industry, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all our food and drink exports each year. It’s fantastic other businesses are following suit and exporting around the world.

‘Global opportunities’

“I want to build on the the significant global opportunities for our food and drink businesses by giving companies the skills and confidence to start tapping into new international markets.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) boss encouraged people around the world to use Burns Night to celebrate the best that Scotland had to offer.

Beer, whisky and gin are a key part of the government’s plans to boost food and drink exports over the next five years.

The recently launched UK Food and Drink International Action Plan aims to bring a £2.9bn boost to the UK economy, by forging stronger economic links with key countries around the world, opening up new markets and helping first-time and existing exporters.

Scottish alcoholic beverage exports – at a glance

  • Whisky: £2.8bn for January to September 2016, up 1.5% from 2015
  • Beer: £479M for January to October 2016, up 16% from 2015
  • Gin: £392M for January to October 2016, up 11% from 2015

Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive of the SWA, said: “Scotch exports are worth around £4bn a year to almost 200 markets. Such demand is driving an unprecedented number of Scotch distilleries being opened.

‘Maintain export growth’

“We’re committed to working with DEFRA to maintain export growth, leading the way for other food and drink products overseas.”

The report on the Burns Night Boom came as the SWA revealed the economic impact of the whisky industry in the UK.

The Scotch whisky industry supports 40,000 jobs in the UK and adds £5bn each year to the economy, according to the SWA.

The study also suggested that the UK’s trade deficit in goods of £115bn would be 3% larger without Scotch’s contribution.

Secretary of state for Scotland Davin Mundell added: “Whisky is a vital part of any Burns night celebration – and these statistics show the industry is going from strength to strength.

“They also show the growing thirst for other fantastic Scottish drinks such as gin and craft beer, which have seen business booming.”

Bellow is a painting of Robert Burns from about 1787. The artist is unknown.


What is Burns Night?

A Burns supper – commonly known as Burns Night – is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns.

The suppers are normally held on or near the poet’s birthday, January 25, occasionally known as Robert Burns Day.

Burns Night is traditionally celebrated with a meal of Haggis with neeps (swede) and tatties (mashed potato), washed down with a glass of whisky.

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