Friday, February 12, 2021


Scotch whisky exports have fallen to the lowest level in a decade, according to figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association.

In 2020, Scotch whisky exports fell by more than £1.1bn, due to the combined impact of Covid-19 and the introduction of 25% tariffs in the United States.

Scotch whisky exports fall to the lowest level in a decade

Overall, the export value of Scotch whisky exports fell 23% by value to £3.8bn. The number of 70cl bottles exported fell by 13% to the equivalent of 1.14bn.

The closure of hospitality and travel restrictions impacting airport retail globally saw export values fall in 70% of Scotch Whisky’s global markets compared to 2019. Exports to the EU 27, the industry’s largest regional export market, fell by 15%.

The continued impact of tariffs on exports of single malt Scotch whisky to the United States has caused the most significant losses. The United States is Scotch whisky’s most valuable market, valued at over £1bn in 2019 when it accounted for a fifth of global exports.

In 2020, exports of Scotch whisky to the US fell by 32% to £729m, a loss of £340m compared to 2019, and accounting for around one third of total global export losses. 

Commenting on the news, Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year, as exports stalled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and US tariffs. In effect, the industry lost 10 years of growth in 2020 and it’s going to take some time to build back to a position of strength.”

The Scotch whisky industry has repeated calls for more support in the upcoming UK budget on March 3rd. Given the tariff has arisen as a result of UK government aerospace policy, the Scotch Whisky Association is calling on the Chancellor to cut spirits duty to mitigate the significant damage being done to the industry.

Posted by Steve Rush