EXPORTS of Scotch whisky topped £6 billion for the first time last year, figures from the industry showed.

Global export data from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) showed the value of sales last year grew by 37% to £6.2 billion.

At the same time, the amount of Scotch sold overseas increased by 21% to the equivalent of 1.67 billion 70cl bottles – 291 million more than in 2021 and up by 364 million on the 2019 total.

On average, the equivalent of 53 bottles of Scotch whisky are exported every second – up from 44 per second in 2021, the SWA calculated.

READ MORE: Why the Scottish Government must tax 'big whisky' amid cost-of-living crisis

Sales to America were worth just over £1 billion in 2022 – the first time this was achieved since the 25% tariff on single malt was suspended.

Meanwhile, India overtook France to become the largest market for whisky sales by volume, with the equivalent of 219 million bottles sold to India last year, up from 136 million in 2021.

Whisky benefited from the full reopening of hospitality in “key global markets” last year, SWA chief executive Mark Kent said.

He added: “During a year of significant economic headwinds and global supply chain disruption, the Scotch whisky industry continued to be an anchor of growth, supporting investment and job creation across Scotland and the UK.”

He added: “The enduring strength of Scotch whisky as the UK’s leading food and drink export is its global appeal to consumers who recognise the quality of the spirit.

The National: Glass of whisky

“Passing £6 billion in export value for the first time is a milestone, and testament to the work of our member companies and the tens of thousands of employees across Scotland and the UK supply chain who make Scotch whisky a global success story of which we are rightly proud.”

Last year saw calls to levy taxes on "big whisky" to help Scotland tackle the cost of living crisis.

The SNP Trade Union Group said Scotland "could raise up to £1 billion from the big, corporate end of the whisky industry".

“Not the wee craft and niche distilleries, but the giants who run the Scotch Whisky Association and its extensive and hugely effective lobbying arm,” the group's convener Bill Ramsay argued.

Rural Affairs and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said it was “fantastic to see exports of Scotch whisky increase in 2022”.

She added: “Scotch whisky is a world-renowned brand and its value to the Scottish economy is evidenced by the large share of the UK’s food and drink export market it commands.”

With the whisky industry employing about 11,000 people in Scotland – including more than 7000 people in rural areas – she said the Scottish Government would continue to listen to the sector to “understand how we can improve export opportunities and remove barriers to trade”.

UK trade minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Scotch Whisky is one of the UK’s great exporting success stories, contributing billions of pounds to the economy and supporting thousands of jobs, so I’m pleased to see these export figures showing a growing global demand.”