WHISKY exports were worth a record £4.27 billion last year, despite less of the drink going overseas.
A total of 1.19 billion bottles of whisky were exported, 5 per cent fewer than in 2011.
But increased demand for more expensive premium blended whisky and the growing popularity of single malts meant that the overall value of exports increased by 1 per cent.
Whisky exports are now worth 87 per cent more than they were a decade ago.
A total of £758 million-worth of whisky was exported to the US last year, up more than £100 million from 2011, making it the drink’s biggest market by value.
The value of exports to Latvia was up 48 per cent, worth £79.1 million last year. But the value of whisky exported to both Spain and France dropped considerably, by 25 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.
The Scotch Whisky Association said changes in excise tax in France in 2012 led to buyers there stocking up on the drink the previous year.
France was still the largest market by volume for whisky, with 153.9 million bottles exported there last year.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the association, said: “Scotch whisky continues to lead the way for UK food and drink exports. A combination of successful trade negotiations, excellent marketing by producers, growing demand from mature markets, particularly the USA, and the growing middle class in emerging economies helped exports hit a record £4.3 billion last year.
“We deliver a remarkable £135 a second to the UK balance of trade. We are contributing massively to the Government’s wish for an export-led recovery.
“There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2 billion capital investment that Scotch whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years. New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand.”