Scotch whisky contributes £5bn to UK economy

Ashley Coates
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Bruichladdich Produce Quadruple Distilled Whisky
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The UK’s burgeoning scotch industry supports around 40,000 jobs in the country and exports £4bn in goods every year.

New figures from the Scotch Whisky Association suggests that the UK’s trade deficit, which current stands at £115bn, would be 3 per cent larger, without the contribution from scotch.

The association gave the scotch industry a positive trade balance of £3.7bn, after imports such as packaging and casks (barrels) used in maturation are factored in.

Of the 40,000 jobs supported by the whisky industry, 7,000 are understood to be in rural areas where the distilleries assist “fragile local economies”, according to the association.

Demand for single malt has soared in the last decade, with many distilleries working at maximum output to meet demand. The sharp rise in interest, much of which has come from younger consumers, has meant that many single malts are now being marketed as “No Age Statement” whiskies, rather than following the 12-Year, 15-Year and 18-Year-Old variations of the past.

A total of 14 new distilleries have opened since 2013, with another 40 planned across Scotland.

The Single Malt Association used the new data, and the occasion of Robert Burn’s birthday, to call on the Government to reduce the tax burden on UK distillers.

The current tax of 77 per cent on an average priced bottle of Scotch is a burden on consumers and the industry”, Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive, said.

“The Government's own figures indicate that fairer tax treatment leads to increased revenue for the public purse. We are calling on the UK Government to cut excise by 2 per cent in next month's Budget, supporting a great Scottish and British industry at a time of uncertainty, giving us a stronger domestic platform from which to invest and grow to make a success of Brexit."

The Treasury brought in around £100m from spirits duty in the year to October 2016, following a freeze in duty at the last Budget and a 2 per cent cut in 2015.

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