Rosemary Gallagher: Whisky – taking Scotland to the world

Scotch whisky is a product recognised and loved across the globe and is renowned for its quality and provenance.

Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications
Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications
Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications

It is enjoyed by consumers in around 200 markets, from Asia to South America, the USA to France. When people buy Scotch they know they are getting a top-class drink to be sipped and savoured.

The figures speak themselves when it comes to the success of Scotch in global markets: the value of Scotland’s national drink shipped overseas is about £4 billion annually; exports earned £135 per second last year; 38 bottles left the UK every second in 2014 and laid end to end they would stretch for about 30,000 kilometres, or six times the distance between Edinburgh and New York.

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In this context, it’s not surprising that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently described food and drink, including Scotch, as “the darling of Scotland’s economy”.

Such statements recognise the fact that we have a vital role to play in economic growth and internationalisation of Scottish business. We lead the way in making up almost three-quarters of Scotland’s food and drink exports, and other sectors have said how Scotch has helped opened doors for them in overseas markets.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) believes there is much to gain from working in partnership with other sectors to continue to grow Scottish food and drink exports. Scotland has a worldwide reputation as a land of food and drink, from salmon to seafood to dairy and meat. Total food and drink exports were worth £5.1bn last year and the ambition is to reach £7.1bn by 2017. The best way to achieve this target is through collaboration.

An excellent example of the entire sector working together is happening now during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and we want to build on this to grow markets across the globe and showcase Scotland’s world-class produce.

Promoting open markets also matters, with the industry working hard to reduce tariffs and tackle protectionism. A major part of the work the SWA does for its members is to ensure that Scotch is given fair access to markets around the world, for example by being involved in European Union free trade agreements, and other trade deals, with overseas nations.

The SWA is also supporting the development of the Scottish Government’s Trade and Investment Partnership that will be a key plank in the drive to encourage more global business to be done from Scotland.

Scotch whisky is one of biggest reasons why many people travel to Scotland from the rest of the UK and abroad, with more than 1.5 million visits to distillery visitor centres last year. We will continue to do all we can, working with others, to ensure Scotland is well and truly on the map.

Rosemary Gallagher is head of communications at the Scotch Whisky Association