For the very first time, the export of single malt Scotch has topped £1 billion. This huge milestone represents a massive growth for the Scotch industry, which produces 93% of its product for the export market.
The increase in Scotch exports in 2016 has surprised many, after 2014 and 2015 experienced a significant dip in sales. According to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – Great Britain’s IRS – show that the quantity of pure spirit being exported from Britain was equivalent to 113 million bottles all at 40% ABV. HMRC also reported that the increase was close to 10% over 2015’s sum of £915 million in export income.
What Does This Mean?
The increase in the popularity of Scotch is occurring across the world, and it not only represents a boost on global economies, but also a trend towards premiumization. Single malt whisky, for instance, makes up 10% of all Scotch exports by volume, but at the same time makes up more than 25% of its total value.
The United States is the biggest market for Scotland – at least by value. The US accounts for more than £854 million in sales – an increase by over £100 million over 2015. In volume, however, France has the US beat – importing more than 189 million bottles in 2016, with a value of £424 million
Along with an increase in popularity of high quality, good whiskey, the weakening of the Pound Sterling since the Brexit vote has also played its part, as products from the United Kingdom have become much cheaper for those outside the country.
The change in the country’s economy appears to be the primary factor in the boost, as figures show that in the second half of 2016 – after the Brexit vote – export values increased by 7%, as opposed to the decrease of 1% in the first half of the year.
Other Major Markets
Markets that are buying more Scotch than ever might surprise you. India currently imports a substantial quantity of Scotch (£85 million in 2016 and £96 million in 2016). This is despite the high trade barriers for bottled Scotch in the country, which is countered by simply mixing Scotch with “Indian-made liquor” to create a beverage that can be more affordably sold.
Singapore also purchased £224 of Scotch, which was later sold on the Chinese and south-east Asian markets.
It’s All Good News for Whiskey Lovers
As Scotch whiskey sales increase, distilleries will begin ramping up production and possibly even producing brand new products. In fact, we’re already seeing this effect, with distilleries turning to whiskeys with longer maturation, stronger flavors and even new cask-strength versions to appeal to the new markets that are opening up. As the market increases and volume of whiskey sold becomes even more substantial, we could see some of the most super premium products made available, and more mid-range diversity appear.
Scotch whiskey is one of the very best whiskies around, and if the rest of the world is buying more of it, then it’s only a reason to celebrate and raise a Glencairn glass