Latest official figures show the total value of Scotch exports totalled £3.85 billion in 2015 – down 2.4 per cent on the previous year.
But David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said there were “clear signs” that overseas sales are on the road to recovery following a decline of more than 7 per cent in 2014.
“Single malt Scotch is seeing a surge in popularity as consumers seek out quality and try new brands,” Frost said.
“A number of markets performed well. The US, the biggest export destination for Scotch, remained steady at £749 million last year. There was growth in a number of emerging markets, with Mexico up 17 per cent to £115m, Turkey up 24 per cent to almost £53m and China recovering to increase 5 per cent to £41m.”
Biggest growth markets of 2015
The three most valuable destinations for Scotch exports are the US, France and Singapore, with Mexico ranked in ninth place.
Here are the five fastest-growing markets outside the ten largest:
As well as being one of Europe’s biggest sources of foreign direct investment into the UK, the Netherlands is helping to give Scotland’s whisky industry a lift, with exports rising 25.6 per cent last year.
Long seen by the SWA as a “potentially very significant export market”, sales to Turkey grew by 23.9 per cent. Scotch whisky was the first foreign product to be registered as a “geographic indication” in the country, protecting it from rivals trying to pass their spirits off as the real thing.
With an estimated 40,000 Poles living north of the Border, it appears those who have settled here have helped instil a love for our national drink back home, where sales rose by 19.3 per cent in 2015.
A vibrant industry of its own – sparked by a doctor’s daughter from Kirkintilloch – has not prevented the Japanese from snapping up whisky produced here. Scotch exports were up 18.4 per cent last year.
Another proud producer of whisky, Canada witnessed a 15.4 per cent increase in the value of Scotch sales.
The Scotch industry employs 10,800 people, according to a recent study from the SWA, with more than 7,000 employed in rural communities.
It directly contributed almost £3.3bn to the UK economy in 2014 and the trade body believes that whisky, “given the right business environment”, has a key role to play in reducing the UK’s trade deficit, which ballooned to £13.3bn in the first three months of 2016 – the widest gap for any calendar quarter since the start of 2008.
Frost added: “After a brief period of economic uncertainty and political headwinds, the demand for Scotch whisky is stabilising and we’re predicting growth in the coming years from both mature and emerging markets.”