UK trade deficit and Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky Exports Analysis 2017

23 May 2018

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has released an analysis of the industry's 2017 export performance that indicates the UK trade deficit would be almost 3% worse without Scotland's national drink.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Scotch Whisky industry has posted record-breaking exports in 2017, growing in both volume and value (by 1.6% and 8.9% respectively) to a total of £4.37bn - the equivalent of 1.23bn bottles exported globally.

The new analysis reveals that, while the UK trade deficit reduced from £166bn in 2016 to £153bn in 2017, the deficit would be 2.9% greater without Scotch Whisky exports. Last year, of every £100 of goods exported from the UK, £1.30 was Scotch Whisky.

The analysis also shows that exports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky continue to grow, with an increase of 14% year-on-year to £1.17bn. This is the second year in a row that exports of Single Malt have surpassed £1bn, reflecting a trend towards premium products in global markets.

Commenting on the analysis, Chief Executive of the SWA Karen Betts said: "More Scotch Whisky is enjoyed across the world than America, Canadian and Irish Whiskies combined.

"Our analysis of 2017 exports shows just how well the industry is doing in our 180 markets. This reflects the industry's determination and hard work to take high quality Scotch Whisky to consumers all over the world.

"The UK trade deficit, currently £153bn, would have been nearly 3% worse without Scotch Whisky exports. Likewise, Scotch plays a key role in the Scottish and UK economy, supporting thousands of jobs, including in rural parts of Scotland.

"Single Malt continues to grow significantly, boosting again the value of our exports. There are signs too that the market for Blended Scotch Whisky is improving. This is a welcome indicator of future growth. Blended Scotch is the solid foundation on which our global export success has been built.

"As Brexit approaches, it's important that the government supports Scotch Whisky's export success and ensures that access to EU and global markets is as good once the UK leaves the EU as it is today. This includes ensuring that Scotch Whisky is properly protected through the Geographical Indication system."


The Scotch Whisky Export Analysis 2017 is available to read or download here.

Key findings:

  • UK exports of spirits increased by £449m to £5.6bn. Scotch Whisky accounts for 78% of all UK spirits exports
  • Exports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky increased by 14% year-on-year to £1.17bn. This is the equivalent of more than 122m bottles
  • Bottled Blended Categories continue to be dominant globally, accounting for more than two in every three bottles of Scotch Whisky exported in both value and volume
  • The UK trade deficit, currently £153bn, would have been 2.9% worse without Scotch Whisky
  • The EU maintained its position as the largest region for Scotch Whisky exports, accounting for 32% of the total value in 2017. North America was second, accounting for 25%, and Asia third with 20% 

For further information please contact the SWA Press Office on 0141 221 0707 or email

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