Whisky Trade Worth £5bn To Economy

28 January 2015, 07:20 | Updated: 28 January 2015, 07:21

The whisky industry is worth more than £5 billion to the UK economy, according to a report.

It directly employs 10,900 people in distilleries and manufacturing, and supports around 30,000 other jobs through its supply chain, the Scotch Whisky Association research found.

Despite a slowdown in exports, billions of bottles of whisky are still sold across the world every year.

The industry accounts for about 75% of Scotland's food and drink exports, and nearly a quarter of the UK total.

Exports of the drink to the US were worth almost £820 million alone in 2013, a record high.

The latest research has been carried out by 4-consulting for the SWA.  The industry body wants to see excise duty cut on whisky in the budget to make whisky cheaper.

The report found that the direct economic impact of the whisky industry to the UK economy is £3.3 billion, with a further £1.8 billion spent on suppliers to the industry each year through drying goods, bottles and packaging, energy, transport and distribution.

With many distilleries in rural areas, the report highlighted the industry's role as a major employer outside traditional town and city centres.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: "This new report shows just how significant the Scotch whisky industry is to the wider UK economy, adding #5 billion of value, supporting over 40,000 jobs and contributing #4 billion to Britain's trade performance.

"Scotch whisky must be recognised as a cultural asset that boosts growth and jobs, supports communities and combines the best of the traditional and the modern.

"Given the scale and impact of the Scotch whisky industry we believe the government should show its support.

"One way of doing so, in the short term, would be for the chancellor to cut excise duty by 2% in the March budget.

"It is unfair on the industry and consumers, and detrimental to the economy, that almost 80% of the average price of a bottle of Scotch is taxation.''

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "Scotch whisky is a huge British success story - to support the industry we ended the spirits duty escalator and froze the duty on whisky and other spirits at last year's Budget. That means a bottle of Scotch whisky is now 42p cheaper than it would have been if the escalator had continued.

"The Government has also introduced the spirits verification scheme. This will help protect the integrity and high reputation of Scotch whisky by helping consumers in the UK and abroad to identify genuine products and avoid fakes.''