SCOTCH whisky saw growth in value and volume across the globe last year, according to official figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Throughout 2018, the export value of the drink went up by 7.8% to reach a record-breaking £4.70 billion.

The number of bottles exported also exceeded previous years, totalling 1.28bn – meaning over 2018, 41 bottles were shipped overseas every second.

Blended Scotch remained an international favourite with global exports of £3.04bn, while single malt exports grew by 11.3% to £1.30bn.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, welcomed the news.

She said: “2018 was another year of strong export growth for Scotch whisky, attesting to its enduring popularity in different countries and among cultures right across the world. Quite simply, Scotch whisky remains the whisky everyone wants to drink.”

The Scottish staple travelled far afield over 2018, being exported to 175 markets around the globe.

The drink also broke records across the pond, as the United States become its first billion-pound export market.

But the EU continued to be the largest region for exports, totalling 30% of global value and 36% of global volume.

Betts added that the 2018 numbers had been positive despite the challenges posed by Brexit uncertainty, but warned politicians against a no-deal scenario.

“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.

“For Scotch, that means fair and balanced regulation and taxes, including excise duty, to give distillers the confidence to invest in future growth. 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.”

The Scotch whisky industry directly employs 10,000 people in Scotland, including 7000 in rural areas, and supports a further 30,000 jobs across the UK.

The sector has been growing over the past decade, with the previous high for export value set in 2017 at £4.37bn.

Nearly 200 markets now import the beverage, with the US its biggest fan, and France, Singapore, Germany and Spain following suit – each spending hundreds of millions on Scotch whisky every year.