Whisky galore: Scotch exports rise for first time since 2013, but Brexit concerns weigh heavy on industry

Francesca Washtell
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George Osborne Freezes Duty On Scotch Whisky In The Budget
Scotch whisky exports returned to positive growth in the first half of the year (Source: Getty)

Scotch was used to prop up bars a little more worldwide last year as global export volumes grew for the first time since 2013 - though the industry is still hesitant on the challenges of Brexit.

Volumes of Scotch, which already adds £5bn to the UK's economy, shipped overseas grew by 3.1 per cent over the first half of this year.

This was the equivalent of 533m 70cl bottles, according to figures released today by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Volumes of single malt whisky were up three per cent to 49m bottles, while blended whisky volumes rose by one per cent to 362m bottles.

The latest figures add momentum to a piqued global interest for whisky, which has lured record number of tourists and visitors to Scottish distilleries over the last five years.

Read more: Gordon Castle: Let us whisky you away to Scotland

The US, the industry's largest market by value, and India also maintained a taste for Scotland's finest tipple.

Stateside exports increased nine per cent in value to £357m, while exports to India in value terms were up 28 per cent to £43m.

The customs value of shipments was down slightly by one per cent to £1.7bn. This was a smaller decline than in the first half of 2015, though, when values were down three per cent.

Read more: Scotch on the rocks: UK tax 1.5 times rest of Europe

The Scotch Whisky Association has warned, however, that the uncertainty of Brexit is still weighing heavy on the export-dependent industry.

Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association David Frost said:

The industry-wide emphasis on craftsmanship and provenance, backed by investment, means that Scotch exports are well-placed to grow in the future, appealing to consumers in both mature and emerging market.

It is clear, however, that the uncertainties of the Brexit vote will create challenges for exports and we continue to encourage early clarity on the likely shape of the UK's future trading relationship with the EU and other countries.

Given the continued international uncertainty, we also look to government to make every effort to put in place a competitive domestic tax and regulatory environment, supporting a key home-grown industry.

Read more: Diageo chief executive backs Remain in letter to UK employees

The association - and much of the industry - came out in favour of the Remain camp in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Scotch whisky is one of the British-made products that could lose its protected status, guaranteed by the EU, which means only products made in a specific geographic area can carry the name associated with them.