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Exports of Scotch whisky exceed £6bn for the first time

Scotch whisky exports continued their post-pandemic surge in 2022, breaking through the £6bn barrier for the first time as India overtook France to become the industry’s biggest market in terms of volume.

According to figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the value of exports last year rose 37% to £6.2bn, with volumes increasing by 21% to the equivalent of 1.67bn 70cl bottles. That equates to 53 bottles of Scotch being exported every second, up from 44 per second in 2021.

Boosted by the partial easing of supply chain constraints and companies adapting to the post-Brexit trading landscape in the European Union (EU), exports were well ahead of pre-pandemic 2019, when 1.31bn bottles of Scotch worth a total of £4.91bn were shipped overseas.

All of Scotch whisky’s top 10 most lucrative export destinations recorded double-digit growth in 2022, spearheaded by the US (+33% to £1.05bn), which recovered from the Trump administration’s imposition of a 25% tariff on imports of single malt to regain its status as Scotch’s only billion-pound market.

Remarkable growth in India saw that country overtake France as Scotch whisky’s leading overseas market in volume terms. Volumes there rose 60% to 219m bottles in 2022, and have grown by over 200% over the past decade.

That performance helped to elevate the Asia-Pacific region above the EU as Scotch whisky’s largest regional market by value. Although established markets such as France, Germany and Spain continued their post-Covid recovery, leading to a 17% increase for the EU as a whole, Asia-Pacific was up 50% in 2022 to £1.82bn, thanks to double-digit growth for Taiwan, Singapore, India and China.

Bottled blended Scotch – which has seen its market share eroded by single malt in recent years – bounced back strongly last year, with exports up 43% to £3.67bn, or 59% of global exports. Single malts were up 30% to £1.99bn, or 32% of total exports.

‘Passing £6bn 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,’ said Mark Kent, SWA chief executive.

‘In 2022, the industry benefited from the full re-opening of hospitality businesses in key global markets, as well as the return of global travel retail, which opens such an important window for Scotch whisky to business and leisure travellers.’

The SWA highlighted strong growth for bulk exports of blended malt Scotch whisky to India – the segment’s largest overseas market – as well as a premiumisation trend in Latin America, where value grew ahead of volume in 2022.

Prospects in India could be even brighter in the years ahead, the SWA added. The country is the world’s largest whisky market, but currently Scotch whisky has a market share of only 2%. If a UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) were to ease the country’s crippling 150% tariff burden on imports of Scotch whisky, SWA analysis suggests that an additional £1bn of growth could be secured over the next five years.

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