Scotch whisky industry set to break export record

Posted on 14 Dec 2011 by Tim Brown

The scotch whisky industry looks likely to have another record year for exports, with the industry warning that the surge in sales could lead to a shortage of supply.

The latest quarterly figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) have revealed a 23% increase on last year’s sales for the first nine months of 2011. With the Christmas and New Year sales still to be taken, the industry on course to shatter last year’s £3.4bn export record.

SWA executives said this surge in popularity, built on the growth of an affluent, emerging markets in South America and Asia, could mean that some distilleries and producers might temporarily run short of supplies. Ian Curle, the SWA’s newly appointed chairman, and chief executive of the Edrington group, producers of The Famous Grouse, said much of scotch whisky’s recent success overseas had been driven by the growth in consumers who see the drink as a prestigious symbol of their wealth and status, in preference to indigenous spirits.

The final overseas sales value of whisky, which helps support 10,300 direct jobs and 35,000 suppliers’ jobs, could be as much as £10bn. The best-selling brand is Johnnie Walker, made by Diageo, with 20% of the market.

The US remains the biggest buyer of whisky, with £430million sales in the first nine months of 2011 and exports to Brazil were up nearly 50 per cent, as wealth grows in the South American country. France received the largest volume of Scotch whisky imports, with 39.4million litres of the alcohol and Singapore is in the top four by volume – but often it is exported to other countries from there, such as China.

Glenfiddich is auctioning one of 11 rare bottles of single malt Scotch whiskies next week which could fetch upto £30,000 – a UK record price for whisky, with profits going to charity.

The distillery, based in Dufftown, Scotland, will be auctioning off the exclusive whisky to celebrate the 110th birthday of Janet Sheed Roberts, who is distillery founder William Grant’s granddaughter and also the oldest living person in Scotland.

The current UK record for a Scotch whisky, according to auctioneer Bonhams, is £29,700.