Scotch whisky exports are up 37% to exceed £6bn in 2022

Global scotch whisky exports have achieved a 37% increase and exceed £6 billion for the first time in 2022.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) have released the export figures for 2022 and they have eclipsed 2021 figures by 37% overall. This proves the rapid recovery of the whisky industry well beyond pre-pandemic levels.

European nations saw strong growth as a bounce-back to pre-pandemic levels, but the most impressive growth was in the Asian markets. In 2022, the Asia Pacific region grew by 50% to become the largest regional market for scotch whisky exports.

The USA in particular saw its export value rise to over £1bn alone.

READ MORE: Whisky Export Results for 2023

Scotch whisky exports continue to grow

Out of all the whisky produced in the UK, 90% is exported around the world. It is a clear advantage for the Scottish and British economies to export whisky globally and it is expected to see further growth as new trade agreements are developed. 

Of particular note are Canada and Mexico which are looking to implement Free Trade Agreements with the UK in the coming years. Both countries did not feature in the top ten largest export destinations, however, the potential in the industry is vast.

Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Mark Kent said:

“During a year of significant economic headwinds and global supply chain disruption, the Scotch Whisky industry continued to be an anchor of growth, supporting investment and job creation across Scotland and the UK.

“The enduring strength of Scotch Whisky as the UK’s leading food and drink export is its global appeal to consumers who recognise the quality of the spirit, with production increasingly grounded in sustainable practices as we continue to reduce our impact on the environment by investing in the future. Passing £6bn in export value for the first time is a milestone, and testament to the work of our member companies and the tens of thousands of employees across Scotland and the UK supply chain who make Scotch Whisky a global success story of which we are rightly proud.

whisky glass barrel

Which country imports the most whisky (2022)?

The information from the SWA has noted the top 10 markets by volume of scotch whisky imported. Here is the full list of the countries that import the most whisky:

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by value) in 2022 (vs 2021) were:   

  1. USA: £1,053m +33% (£790m in 2021)  
  2. France: £488m +26% (£387m in 2021)  
  3. Singapore: £316m +50% (£212m in 2021)  
  4. Taiwan: £315m +39% (£226m in 2021)  
  5. India: £282m +93% (£146m in 2021)  
  6. China: £233m +18% (£198m in 2021)  
  7. Panama: £203m +165% (£77m in 2021)  
  8. Germany: £202m +36% (£148m in 2021)  
  9. Japan: £175m +32% (£133m in 2021)  
  10. Spain: £173m +46% (£118m in 2021)  

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by volume, 70cl bottles equivalent) in 2022 were:   

  1. India: 219m bottles +60% (136m bottles in 2021)  
  2. France: 205m bottles +17% (176m bottles in 2021)  
  3. United States: 137m bottles +9% (126m bottles in 2021)  
  4. Brazil: 93m bottles +14% (82m bottles in 2021)  
  5. Japan: 75m bottles +33% (56m bottles in 2021)  
  6. Germany: 67m bottles +48% (46m bottles in 2021)  
  7. Spain: 67m bottles +39% (48m bottles in 2021)  
  8. Poland: 49m bottles +9% (45m bottles in 2021)  
  9. Mexico: 48m bottles +2% (48m bottles in 2021)  
  10. South Africa: 39m bottles +15% (34m bottles in 2021)

Every second, 53 bottles of whisky were exported from Scotland in 2022. This is compared to 44 bottles of whisky exported every second in 2021.

Read more: Record increases in whisky imports into South Korea in Q1 2023

India is set to be the biggest scotch whisky market in the world in 2023

India is now the biggest importer of scotch whisky in the world. The total value of imports is surpassed by four other countries, yet the significant growth represents only 2% of the total whisky market in India. 

The 93% growth is impressive, however, it should be noted that there is currently a 150% export tariff. If this tariff is reduced to make scotch whisky more affordable it is expected for the Indian whisky market to explode in value.

Mark Kent, Chief Executive of the SWA suggests that India will expand their palate for scotch whisky in the coming years: “By reducing tariffs through the UK-India free trade agreement, continuing the duty freeze in the March budget, and ensuring the industry’s continued ability to advertise our world-class product in our home market, the Scottish and UK governments can count on the Scotch Whisky industry to reinvest its success across the UK.”

A recovering industry

In recent years the global pandemic has impacted the hospitality industry more than any other. As normality resumes in most countries the appetite for whisky recovers and grows in hospitality around the world.

The SWA notes: “In 2022, the industry benefited from the full re-opening of hospitality businesses in key global markets, as well as the return of global travel retail which opens such an important window for Scotch Whisky to business and leisure travellers. Exports were also boosted by the continued premiumisation trend, with consumers attracted to high-quality spirits like Scotch Whisky, now often enjoyed in longer serves as well as the more traditional dram.”

The Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs & Islands Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Food and drink is one of our priority export sectors and the continued growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland.”

The UK Government’s Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade Nigel Huddleston has this to say:

“It’s essential we continue to support the industry as it expands into new markets thanks to our new trade agreements around the world such as CPTPP and in India. As we set our sights on £1 trillion exports by 2030 [total UK exports], I’m confident we can see scotch whisky go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

What next for the whisky industry?

Many investors and producers see how whisky has grown in value and overall interest in recent years. 

In 2019, whisky was named the most valuable luxury commodity in the world by the Frank Knight report. It has grown significantly in many countries previously untouched by the whisky craze.

This new report further highlights how the value of whisky is on an upward trend. Now more than ever is the right time to invest in whisky.


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