Export volumes for the drink also grew, with the number of 70cl bottles sent overseas up 3.6% to the equivalent of 1.28bn – another record for the industry.
Key to the success of the industry were sales of blended Scotch whisky, taking home the lion’s share of export sales – £3.04bn last year. Single malt whisky also experienced export growth, with sales up 11.3% to £1.3bn.
SWA chief executive Karen Betts said the figures underscored the strength of the Scotch whisky category, which had grown despite the challenges of Brexit and tensions in the global trading system.
“A key driver for global growth is the growing market for premium spirits. Scotch whisky is in a great position to take advantage of this given its unrivalled reputation for quality, authenticity and provenance,” said Betts.
“However, the industry does not take continued growth for granted. We operate in a competitive global marketplace and so a competitive business environment in Scotland and across the UK is vital to Scotch whisky’s success.”
To support the continued growth of the Scotch whisky industry, Betts called for balanced regulation and taxes on the spirit, including excise duty, to give distillers confidence to invest.
Future relationship with EU
She added: “We also want to see the UK and EU agree to an open and positive future relationship, which delivers frictionless trade with the EU, and the UK to secure ambitious trading relationships with key markets around the world.”
“In that context, it is important to our industry, as to many others, that the UK does not leave the EU without a deal at the end of March. We are urging the government and Parliamentarians to work together constructively and pragmatically to ensure that an agreement is reached as quickly as possible.”