Global Scotch Whisky Exports Exceed £5.6 Billion in 2023

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) recently unveiled its much-anticipated export data for 2023, offering a comprehensive glimpse into the industry’s performance amidst a backdrop of global challenges and opportunities. Let’s delve into the intricacies of these figures and dissect the trends shaping the world of Scotch whisky.

The 2023 Export Figures

In a remarkable display of resilience, Scotch whisky exports soared to a value exceeding £5.6 billion, equivalent to an astounding 1.35 billion 70cl bottles. This translates to a rate of 43 bottles being exported every single second. 

While these figures represent a modest decrease compared to the previous year, they also signify a substantial uptick from pre-pandemic levels, with a commendable 14% increase in value and a resilient 3% rise in volume since 2019.

Read the infographic from the SWA highlighting the key figures:

whisky exports infographic 2023

Scotch Whisky Exports By Country

Top 10 Countries 2023 by Value

Below we have listed the top 10 global markets for countries that import the most Scotch whisky by value:

  1. USA: £978mm -7% (£1,053m in 2022) -9% on 2019 (£1.07bn)
  2. France: £474m -3% (£488m in 2022) +10% on 2019 (£432m)
  3. Singapore: £378m +19% (£316m in 2022) +26% on 2019 (£300m)
  4. Taiwan: £341m +8.3% (£315m in 2022) +65% on 2019 (£205m)
  5. China: £235m +1% (£233m in 2022) +165% on 2019 (£89m)
  6. India: £218m -22.5% (£282m in 2022) +31% on 2019 (£166m)
  7. Germany: £197m -2% (£202m in 2022) +7% on 2019 (£185m)
  8. Spain: £184m +7% (£173m in 2022) +2% on 2019 (£180m)
  9. Japan: £170m -3% (£175m in 2022) +16% on 2019 (£147m)
  10. Turkey: £131m +24% (£99m in 2022) +178% on 2019 (£47m)

Top 10 Countries 2023 by Volume

  1. France: 174m bottles -15% (205m bottles in 2022) +4% on 2019 (173m bottles)
  2. India: 167m bottles -24% (219m bottles in 2022) +28% on 2019 (131m bottles)
  3. USA: 127m bottles -7%  (137m bottles in 2022) +0.04% on 2019 (173m bottles)
  4. Japan: 60m bottles -20% (75m bottles in 2022) -1% on 2019 (60m bottles)
  5. Germany: 59m bottles -12% (67m bottles in 2022) +20% on 2019 (50m bottles)
  6. Spain: 58m bottles -14% (67m bottles in 2022) +2% on 2019 (57m bottles)
  7. Poland: 45m bottles -6% (49m bottles in 2022) +39% on 2019 (33m bottles)
  8. Brazil: 43m bottles -54% (93m bottles in 2022) -1% on 2019 (43m bottles)
  9. Turkey: 41m bottles +31% (31m bottles in 2022) +177% on 2019 (15m bottles)
  10. Mexico: 34m bottles -30% (31m bottles in 2022) -34% on 2019 (51m bottles)

Regions Importing the Most Scotch Whisky in 2023

  • Asia Pacific: £1.8bn -1.4% vs 2022 (32% of global exports)
  • European Union: £1.6bn -2% vs 2022 (28% of global exports)
  • North America: £1.2bn -10% vs 2022 (21% of global exports)
  • Central and South America: £408m -45% vs 2022 (7% of global exports)
  • Middle East and North Africa: £267m -18% vs 2022 (5% of global exports)
  • Western Europe (ex EU): £167m +14% vs 2022 (3% of global exports)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: £162m -21% vs 2022 (3% of global exports)
  • Eastern Europe (ex.EU): £42m +9% vs 2022 (1% of global exports)

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite facing headwinds, the industry’s journey through 2023 was characterised by both challenges and opportunities. 

While 2022 witnessed a surge in exports following the reopening of global markets post-pandemic, 2023 offered a more nuanced perspective, reflecting a more normalised state of affairs. 

Whisky industry leaders sounded a note of caution, highlighting significant hurdles both at home and in key international markets. 

Mark Kent, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association said: “Scotch Whisky has once again shown its export strength despite significant challenges across a volatile global trading environment. The figures demonstrate that Scotch Whisky brands and distilleries are investing in their teams, their tourism offering, their long-term sustainability and their global presence to ensure that Scotch continues to be the world’s favourite whisky.

“We know that the Scotch Whisky industry is remarkably resilient as we look at these numbers against the backdrop of rising costs for consumers and businesses, but the figures are a reminder once again that the Scotch Whisky success story cannot be taken for granted. We need to see more tangible support from government both at home and in our priority markets in order to continue to grow our export numbers and the resultant investment, employment and economic benefits that come with that.

“A cut to spirits duty in the Spring Budget would be a step in the right direction, giving the industry platform at home to push forward with international growth. Government must also do away with any notion of restricting the marketing of Scotch Whisky in Scotland, which would have a significant and lasting impact on the industry’s ability to generate future growth.”

Market Analysis

A more in-depth analysis of the three largest global markets is as follows.

Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific emerged as a formidable stronghold for Scotch whisky, with China, Singapore, and Taiwan leading the charge. Noteworthy was the surge in demand for premium offerings, particularly of single malt Scotch whisky, indicating a discernible shift in consumer preferences across these dynamic markets.

Further opportunities in this area have been reported before:

Europe

Europe continued to play a pivotal role in Scotch whisky exports, with France reclaiming its title as the largest volume market. If we include all European regions (EU, West Europe, East Europe), Europe is almost equal to the Asia-Pacific region in terms of value. Also, only Turkey saw significant increases when compared to 2022 figures of 24%.

United States

The United States, historically the cornerstone of Scotch whisky’s global presence, experienced a slight decline in exports attributed to economic fluctuations and escalating consumer costs. Despite these challenges, industry insiders remain cautiously optimistic about a rebound in the near future, albeit with a keen eye on tariff policies and trade dynamics.

The Future of Whisky

Looking ahead, the Scotch whisky industry remains cautiously optimistic about its growth prospects. As global economic uncertainties persist and consumer behaviours continue to evolve, sustained government support, including the pursuit of tariff-free trade agreements and reductions in spirits duty, is deemed imperative for fostering continued export expansion.

We agree at UKV International AG. The incredible 2022 for Scotch whisky exports was unlikely to be sustained, but 2023 was still the second highest value year in the last 20 years at £5.6 billion.

Our clients understand that any investment will have its ups and downs, yet the whisky market remains strong and the enthusiasm remains strong too. 

We help our clients develop their passion for whisky through whisky investments. Whether it is to buy, sell or store their prized whisky we can help. 

Speak to our whisky experts today to learn more about opportunities for whisky in 2024.