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UK Scotch sales bounced back in 2015 after 2% duty cut

Published:  02 March, 2016

Sales of Scottish whisky in the UK returned to growth last year after years of decline, according to figures released today by the Scottish Whisky Association.

Some 84.9 million 70cl bottles were sold in 2015, up 2% from 83.3 million the previous year.

UK sales of Scotch fell 5% in 2014 and are down by around a quarter since 2005, when 107 million bottles were sold.

The news comes as the SWA continues to press the government for a further 2% cut in duty on spirits in the upcoming March budget.

Chancellor George Osborne cut duty last year by 2%, boosting Treasury revenue from spirits by £102 million to the year end.

The SWA argues that a further cut will boost industry confidence and encourage greater investment.

David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said: "A strong UK market is vital, particularly for new entrants to the industry. In the last two years, nine new distilleries have started production in Scotland and they need a strong domestic base to grow from.

"The UK is still the third biggest market for Scotch in the world, but it is fragile and competitive. That's why we want Chancellor George Osborne to support an important domestic industry by cutting duty by a further 2% next month."

Exports of Scotch also look to be turning around.

in the first half of 2015, exports were valued at £1.7 billion, the SWA revealed at the end of last year.

Although that still represents a 3% fall year on year, it is a marked improvement on the 11% recorded over the same period in 2014.

Frost said: "The tax treatment of Scotch in its home market also has repercussions for our export performance. If overseas governments see Scotch being treated unfairly in the UK that could influence their decisions.

"This makes it harder to ensure a level playing field for Scotch overseas. With Scotch now the biggest net contributor to UK trade in goods, it is important the Chancellor acts to support distillers and therefore the wider economy."

New distilleries which have opened in the last two years include: Arbikie, Ballindalloch, Dalmunach, Eden Mill and Kingsbarns.