SCOTCH whisky exports topped £5.6 billion in 2023 in what’s been described as a “hugely successful year” for the sector.

Although the numbers are down from the previous record-breaking year, they are up on pre-pandemic levels.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the Asia-Pacific markets continued to dominate the growth in global demand, with the value of exports to China up by 165% on 2019.

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Scotch whisky exports were valued at £5.6bn in 2023, with 1.35bn bottles exported – the equivalent of 43 bottles per second.

However, exports to the US – which remains the largest market by value – were down 9% on 2019 levels to £978 million.

Reacting to the news Scottish Trade Minister Richard Lochhead (below) said the figures highlighted the importance of the sector to Scotland.  

The National:

“After 2022’s exceptional export figures, 2023 was another hugely successful year for the Scotch whisky sector and I congratulate everyone involved for their ongoing work delivering Scotland’s leading single food and drink export,” he said.

“In talks with the UK Government on trade agreement negotiations, we consistently set out the importance of improving opportunities for, and removing barriers to, Scotch whisky exports.

“Whisky is a Scottish success story with global impact. Scottish Government ministers regularly engage with the industry to understand how best we can help it to continue contributing to our economy, supporting the tourism and hospitality sector and delivering high quality jobs across the country.”

Meanwhile, the SWA is continuing to press for a longer-term removal of whisky trade tariffs in US/UK talks.

The industry body is continuing to press for a longer-term removal of whisky trade tariffs in US/UK talks.

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SWA chief executive Mark Kent said: “Scotch whisky has once again shown its export strength despite significant challenges across a volatile global trading environment.

“The figures demonstrate that Scotch whisky brands and distilleries are investing in their teams, their tourism offering, their long-term sustainability and their global presence to ensure that Scotch continues to be the world’s favourite whisky.

“We know that the Scotch whisky industry is remarkably resilient as we look at these numbers against the backdrop of rising costs for consumers and businesses, but the figures are a reminder once again that the Scotch whisky success story cannot be taken for granted.

“We need to see more tangible support from government both at home and in our priority markets in order to continue to grow our export numbers, and the resultant investment, employment and economic benefits that come with that.”