UK sees a £7.1 billion boost thanks to Scotch Whisky

Posted: 16 January 2024 | | No comments yet

A report has found that the Scotch Whisky industry supports 66,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £7.1 billion to the economy.


According to a report carried out by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the UK economy gets a £7.1 billion lift from Scotch Whisky.

As well as this, the SWA claims that the sector supports 66,000 jobs across the UK, with 41,000 of these roles based in Scotland.

Going further, the research noted that the Scotch Whisky industry is now responsible for generating £3 in every £100 of Scotland’s total Gross Value Added (GVA), and finds that it is the second most productive sector in Scotland, ranked just behind energy including renewables. 

The report also found that the industry performs a “crucial role” in driving productivity across Scotland, with the manufacturing of beverages in Scotland – dominated by Scotch – producing £273,000 GVA per employee.

“The Scotch Whisky industry has once again proven its economic significance to the UK domestically and on the world stage, and these figures highlight the importance of backing a key sector for productivity, exports and employment,” shared Mark Kent, Chief Executive of the SWA.

However, Kent went on to emphasise that he believes it is “vital” that the industry is supported by government in order for business to be able to continue to invest in the UK economy.

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Although Scotch Whisky companies has been adapting to domestic and international changes, SWA has shared the sector is warning that while there is “room for further growth, Scotch whisky continues to face multiple barriers, including the highest spirits duty rate in the G7, key infrastructure in Scotland in need of investment, and trade deals – including with India – still to be finalised”.

“These challenges combined with rapidly increasing competition from premium spirits in global markets puts future investment, growth and jobs at risk without government support,” explained SWA.

Kent disclosed that the past five years has been “turbulent for our sector”, as it has been facing retaliatory tariffs in the US, as well as contending with the knock-on economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Scotch Whisky industry has remained resilient, with capital investment directed towards fulfilling our collective sustainability ambitions, creating world-class visitor attractions, and building more distilleries that will help boost jobs and growth,” continued Kent.

Looking to the near future, Kent said that ahead of the UK Spring Budget on 6 March and this year’s General Election, it is “vital that the industry is supported by government so that businesses can continue to invest in the UK economy”.

The report also found that 75 percent of the total GVA of the Scotch Whisky industry is generated in Scotland, a figure which is equal to £5.3 billion annually. The SWA says that this is helped by legislation that requires all Scotch Whisky to be distilled and matured for at least three years in Scotland, and all Single Malt Scotch whisky to be bottled in Scotland.

 “I welcome this report which demonstrates the great strength and resilience of the Scottish whisky industry. The sector’s contribution to the economy, with ever-growing exports and investment in skills and jobs, is of vital importance to Scotland, and the whole of the UK,” shared Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

“The UK Government wholeheartedly supports the industry. Scotch is not just Scotland’s but the UK’s most valuable food and drink export and that’s why we’ve given it 10 cuts or freezes in duty at the last 11 Budgets, as well as removing punitive tariffs imposed on the US market. We are pushing forward with new and robust global trade agreements that will continue to safeguard the interest of Scotch whisky, ensuring that the unique characteristics and reputation of Scotch are protected.”

Speaking on how valuable Scotch Whisky is to the economy, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray noted that it also bolsters tourism and hospitality.

“It supports thousands of jobs – including in rural areas – and is a success story at home and internationally. Scotch Whisky is a world-renowned brand and our leading single food and drink export product. Continued growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland, our communities benefit and it entices visitors and residents to experience the incredible offer we have here in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with the whisky sector to drive further growth and success,” concluded Gray.