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Gin and Scotch exports hit record highs

Published:  13 February, 2019

UK gin export sales exceeded £600 million in 2018 - a new record and up 15% on the previous year, according to new figures released by HMRC.

It also said gin sales have more than doubled in value since 2010, that combined domestic and export sales now totalled £2.5 billion and the UK now sends more gin around the world than beef or beer - with overseas gin sales worth 28% more than beer.

The EU is the biggest destination for UK gin worth almost £290 million, up 14% on 2017. Sales to the US are worth £191 million, up £13 million on 2017. Australia spent £24.4 million on British gin, doubling what it spent in 2017. Gin sales are also surging in South Africa with £14.5 million sold last year, up from £4.5 million in 2017 - a 222% increase.

“The global thirst for British gin shows no sign of slowing and there is no doubt that those overseas are drawn to the quality of gin made here in the UK,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale. “Gin is a quintessentially British spirit, and perfect for anyone looking to tap into Brand Britain overseas.”

In the UK, gin sales in 2018 were worth over £1.9 billion, up 41% on the previous year.

The HMRC also hailed a strong year for Scotch Whisky exports in 2018, saying the export value of Scotch Whisky grew 7.8% to a record £4.7 billion. The number of 70cl bottles exported also reached record levels growing to the equivalent of 1.28 billion, up 3.6%.

The US became the first billion pound export market for Scotch Whisky, growing to £1.04 billion last year, but the EU remains the largest region for exports, accounting for 30% of global value and 36% of global volume.

Blended Scotch Whisky delivered global exports of £3.04 billion while exports of Single Malt Scotch grew by 11.3% in 2018 to £1.30 billion.

"2018 was another year of strong export growth for Scotch Whisky, attesting to its enduring popularity in different countries and among cultures right across the world,” said chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts. “Quite simply, Scotch Whisky remains the whisky everyone wants to drink.

“These figures underscore strength of the Scotch Whisky category, which has continued to grow despite the challenges posed by Brexit and by tensions in the global trading system.

“A key driver for global growth is the growing market for premium spirits. Scotch Whisky is in a great position to take advantage of this given its unrivalled reputation for quality, authenticity and provenance.

“However, the industry does not take continued growth for granted. We operate in a competitive global marketplace and so a competitive business environment in Scotland and across the UK is vital to Scotch Whisky‘s success.

“For Scotch, that means fair and balanced regulation and taxes, including excise duty, to give distillers the confidence to invest in future growth. We also want to see the UK and EU agree to an open and positive future relationship, which delivers frictionless trade with the EU, and the UK to secure ambitious trading relationships with key markets around the world.

“In that context, it is important to our industry, as to many others, that the UK does not leave the EU without a deal at the end of March. We are urging the government and Parliamentarians to work together constructively and pragmatically to ensure that an agreement is reached as quickly as possible.”

But Rupert Patrick, CEO of WhiskyInvestDirect, said the Scotch industry “faces Brexit from a strong position, building record-high demand worldwide. Export values rising faster than volume confirms the underlying trend of premiumisation in Scotch whisky. While Bourbon, Japanese and Irish are benefiting from the overall growth in world whisky demand, Scotch as a brand continues to extend both its reach and its dominance of the premium and super premium categories.

"Driving the premiumisation of Scotch whisky is its USP of long maturation in the barrel. The world's drinkers are increasingly well-informed and discerning, and they’re happy to pay more for fine whisky aged for longer.”