Scottish whisky: Poll shows more than half of voters want Scottish and UK governments to do more to support Scotch whisky

Whisky distilleries in Scotland have complained about a hike on duty

More than half of Scottish voters want both the governments in Holyrood and Westminster to do more to support the Scotch whisky industry, a poll has found.

The survey carried out by Survation, on behalf of the UK Spirits Alliance and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), also found the iconic Scotch Whisky industry is regarded by Scots as one of the most important in the Scottish economy, along with its associated sectors of hospitality, tourism, and food and drink.

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From a survey of UK-wide respondents, the poll revealed that in Scotland 22 per cent most associate the Labour Party with hospitality, whilst just 9 per cent associate the Conservatives with supporting hospitality.

Michael Shanks expressed support for Scotch Whisky during a visit.Michael Shanks expressed support for Scotch Whisky during a visit.
Michael Shanks expressed support for Scotch Whisky during a visit.

The findings also show that 86 per cent of respondents view Scotch whisky as important to Scotland's economic health. When combined, the sectors related to whisky, including tourism with a 91 per cent importance rating, food and drink at 90 per cent, and hospitality at 90 per cent, show strong support across the board.

The poll results were published as Labour’s Michael Shanks, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, visited The Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow with the view of championing the cause of the SWA.

He said: “I’m proud to back a distillery such as Clydeside, who are producing whisky that captures the essence of Scotland. Scotch whisky is our nation’s number on export, and our distilleries put this country on the map. We should continue to celebrate and support this iconic sector, which drives growth, exports, and provides skilled jobs across the country. It is fantastic to see distilleries thrive and innovate, even under difficult economic circumstances”.

The SWA is calling on the UK government to cut alcohol duty, after a 10.1 per cent hike in duty on August 1.

Research by the SWA shows 43 bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped from Scotland to around 180 markets every second, totalling roughly 1.6 billion bottles every year. The sector accounts for 77 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports, and 26 per cent of UK wide food and drink exports.

Clydeside Distillery manager Alistair McDonald and visitor centre manager Bridgeen Mullen said of the visit: “We’re really proud of the products we produce and it is brilliant to have the support of a Glasgow local for our work.

“British drinkers have embraced locally made whisky, and I’m proud of what we have achieved here at The Clydeside. Producers like us across the country are continuing to grow and expand further into supporting hospitality and tourism to Glasgow and across Scotland.”

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Fraser Grieve, deputy director of strategy and communications at the SWA said: “The Chancellor should be backing business in the Budget and announcing a cut in alcohol duty. The figures show freezing spirits duty in the past has generated more revenue from the Treasury than a tax hike – and the Chancellor lost revenue by increasing duty last August.

"Now is the time to go further, with a cut that will support distillers, the economy, hard-pressed consumers, and pubs relying on Scotch whisky and other spirits for their revenue.”

An HM Treasury spokesperson said: "We are fully backing the spirits sector by cutting or freezing their alcohol duty at the majority of fiscal events over the past decade – a 26 per cent real terms tax cut worth £12.9bn.

“The government has acted to remove punitive tariffs imposed on the US market and are protecting the interests of the sector in trading agreements, ensuring that they face lower tariffs for export, and that the unique characteristics and global reputation of UK spirits are protected."



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