Research by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) show distillery visits grew by 7 per cent to 1.6 million in 2015, and have risen by more than 20 per cent since 2010.
The SWA survey also found that visitors spend about £25 each on average, with total spending at distillery visitor centres reaching £50 million last year. That compares with the 2010 figure of £27m.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, the trade body’s deputy chief executive, said: “Scotch whisky distilleries offer high-quality and unique opportunities to visit the homes of some of Scotland’s most famous brands. It is testament to Scotch whisky companies that visits have increased at a time when overall Scottish visitor numbers fell.
“This brings important benefits to the wider rural economy, as distillery visitors will also then be staying at the local B&B, visiting a local pub or café, or buying souvenirs of their stay in Scotland.”
About half of Scotland’s 118 whisky distilleries are open to the public. Distilleries reported that the largest proportion of visitors came from Scotland and other parts of the UK, Germany, the US and France – reflecting some of the largest global markets for Scotch.