Scotch whisky exports surge after Brexit vote

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Scotch whisky exports increased for the first time since 2013
Scotch whisky exports increased for the first time since 2013

Related tags Scotch whisky industry Whisky Scotch whisky Scotch whisky association

Scotch whisky exports returned to growth last year after two years of decline, helped by the Brexit vote and growing consumer demand.

Scotch whisky generated £3.98bn in export sales last year – selling the equivalent of 38 bottles a second – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs trade data revealed.

Single malt whisky sales increased 9.6%, compared with 2015. The value of single malt export sales topped £1bn, up from £914M in 2015.

The Scotch whisky industry benefitted from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, WhiskyInvestDirect head of research Leon Kuebler claimed. He said the Brexit vote had led sterling to fall in value, making UK exports cheaper to foreign buyers.

‘EU referendum’

“Prior to the EU referendum, the sterling value of Scotch exported in the first half of 2016 was down 1% on the same period of 2015, despite a 3.2% rise in the amount of Scotch dispatched during this period,”​ said Kuebler.

“By contrast, in the last six months of 2016, Scotch exports rose 6.8% in value, while volume shipments were up 4.8%.”

Growing overseas demand for Scotch whisky also boosted export sales. Each quarter of 2016 saw increased sales – the first time that’s happened this decade.

The largest market for Scotch whisky exports was the US, with rising US sales of 14.2%. Scotch exports to Spain rose for the first time in 10 years. 

‘Record year’

“Scotch also had a record year in India, with shipments growing 13.8% to £96.5M,”​ Kuebler said. “India is the largest consumer of whisky in the world, but Scotch has hitherto only represented a fraction of this market, which is dominated by domestically-produced brands.”

Meanwhile, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) signed a deal​ with Brazilian spirit maker Cachaça in December, to promote responsible alcoholic drinking. The deal would help Scotch whisky sales return to growth in Brazil, following a period of recession, the SWA claimed.

Scotch whisky sales to Brazil fell by £55M in 2016. Volume of Scotch exported to Brazil also dropped by 8%, to 12M litres.

Scotch whisky 2016 export sales – at a glance

  • £3.98bn in total export sales last year
  • Single malt sales increased 9.6%
  • Industry benefitted from Brexit vote and growing demand

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