SWA Annual Review 2016-17
03 May 2017
Events of the past year signal further change is yet to come -
not least the impact of the vote to leave the EU. Since the seismic
decision in June 2016, the Association and the wider industry,
along with many others, have been analysing what this means in
reality. We go into more detail about the potential impact of
Brexit later in this review. The continuing growth of Scotch will
be a litmus test of the success of the UK's exit from the EU.
While many things will change for Scotch Whisky, we are working
hard to prepare for the multitude of areas where our circumstance
will undoubtedly be altered. While the Association was a proponent
in favour of remaining in the EU and continuing to enjoy the
benefits of the single market, we have spent time since the vote
working out where opportunities in Brexit lie. And given the size
and scale of our industry, it is important that governments take on
board our views. Scotch Whisky is a major UK manufacturing sector
supporting 40,000 jobs, adding £5bn in value across the economy and
generating annual exports of more than £4bn. We have been active in
calling on the government to ensure the UK has as open a trade
policy as possible, protects Scotch Whisky and delivers change with
the minimum of disruption.
The performance of the Scotch Whisky industry over the last 12
months has been positive and I am optimistic that this will
Demand for Scotch made a welcome return to growth after a slight
decline in recent years. Last year, Scotch exports were up 4% in
value to more than £4bn and up 4.8% by volume to 1.2bn bottles.
While Blended Scotch Whisky continues to be the biggest category,
it's also encouraging to see that Single Malt Scotch exports
exceeded £1bn for the first time.
To meet this growing demand there has been substantial
investment in the industry - by both new entrants and existing
players. In the last three years, some 14 new distilleries have
started production and around eight are set to open this year, with
many more at various stages of planning and development. And
companies already working in the sector have been expanding their
facilities, for example with new warehouses and new and improved
The SWA wants to work closely with new entrants and support
their growth, and the entire industry can benefit from the
innovation they bring. That's why we signed a Memorandum of
Understanding with the Scottish Craft Distillers Association, an
organisation representing only newer, smaller producers of many
types of spirits, earlier this year. The industry's expansion is
largely down to the industry's desire to grow. It has been helped
through support from the UK and Scottish Governments. We enjoy good
relationships with both governments and we value their willingness
to listen to our industry's needs, though we will continue to
challenge where we see a need for change.
This Review gives an overview of some of the key pieces of work
by the SWA in 2016 and early 2017, but it's impossible to capture
all our activities in one report.
From our Edinburgh headquarters and London office we will continue
to represent the Scotch Whisky industry in the UK and overseas.
I look forward to Karen Betts joining as our chief executive in
May to steer us through current uncertainties. I am proud to hand
on a strong Association in good shape to handle the opportunities
and challenges presented by a constantly changing environment.
A strong trade association relies on the quality of input from
its members and a
professional in-house team. I would like to thank all our members
on Council and others who support us in what we do and for our
great team at the SWA for the vital role they play in our
Julie Hesketh-Laird, SWA acting chief executive