24 Feb Single Malt Scotch Whisky Hits $1.25 Billion Export Record

Amid the looming uncertainty of Brexit’s impact on the United Kingdom, at least one industry is celebrating: Scotch whisky.

Single malt Scotch whisky clocked a record year of export sales in 2016, topping £1 billion ($1.25 billion) for the first time. This achievement is being attributed to growth in sales among luxury and prestige markets.

Export sales are vital for Scotch whisky, accounting for 93% of total production in Scotland.

In 2015, export sales totaled £914 million. (Note that these figures cover the amount of whisky shipped overseas, not total bottles sold in shops).

More people around the world want a dram of this     Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

The growth went beyond just the single malt market as overall export sales of Scotch whisky, including blends, reached nearly £4 billion, following three consecutive years of decline from a peak of £4.27 billion in 2012 to £3.85 billion in 2015.

While the single malt market totaled 25% of overall Scotch whisky exports, it accounted for only 10% of total production.

Despite my earlier post about post-Brexit uncertainty for the whisky industry, so far the advent of Britain’s exit from the European Union has actually boosted whisky exports. A weaker pound has translated into more competitive export pricing – and higher profits – as seen in a spike of Scotch whisky shipments in the second half of 2016 following the June 23rd Brexit referendum.

So which countries have been buying?

The U.S. market – the industry’s most lucrative – has been responsible for a large proportion of the increase. Bottles amounting to £855.6 million of Scotch whisky were sold in the U.S., up 14.2% from the year before.

The French came in a far second, at £416.2 million total sales, followed by Singapore, Taiwan, and Spain respectively. (While Singapore may seem like a surprising market, it actually serves as a distribution centre for southeast Asia and China as well.

Some significant gains were also made in countries specifically targeted by the British industry. India, for example, traditionally has been a tough market for Scotch whisky due to tough trade barriers. However, Indian distilleries buy in bulk for mixing with ‘Indian-made foreign liquor.’ Exports hit £96 million, up from £85 million last year.

In Japan, Scotch whisky also saw an increase of 8.4%, hitting £82.2 million as total exports from Scotland to Japan neared £100 million.

Poland, Latvia, and Australia are also showing significant promise, each with 10%-plus increases in sales over 2015.



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