What does 2018 hold for Scotch?

17 January, 2018 by Andy Young

After a good 2017 for the Scotch whisky industry, with exports returning to growth and Single Malt exports breaking through £1bn for the first time, what will 2018 bring?

Looking at the year ahead, Karen Betts, the Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, is confident that as long as the industry does not stand still it can experience sustained global growth.

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“Reflecting confidence in the future, we saw unprecedented investment in the industry, with new distilleries opening and older ones being given a new lease of life,” Betta said.

“More people than ever visited the industry in Scotland, with Scotch Whisky distilleries ranking among some of the most popular Scottish and UK attractions.

“But this industry knows it can never stand still so what are we expecting for Scotch Whisky in 2018? Encouragingly, we saw signs last year that growth in both value and volume of exports was picking up. As the industry looks to the future, we are focusing of the importance of sustaining global growth in the medium to long term.

“Looking at performance in various markets, India is perennially the market with the greatest potential. It is already our third biggest export market by volume and our tenth by value, but Scotch only has a one per cent share of the Indian spirits market which shows there is real scope to expand.

“Post-Brexit, we want to see an ambitious UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that, at the very least, brought down the current 150 per cent import tariff on Scotch. Reducing this tariff would make a massive difference to exports of Scotch.

“Elsewhere, there has been strong growth in the volume and value of Scotch exports to Singapore. It operates as a distribution hub for Scotch exports to large parts of Asia so this increase indicates strong demand across the region.”

In figures released towards to back end of last year, the SWA revealed that the value and volume of Scotch whisky exports to Australia had both grown. Australia imported 14.3m bottles in the first six months of 2017, up 13.6 per cent on the same period the previous year. The value of exports to Australia also increased up by 1.7 per cent to £44,467,364 for the first six months of the year. That makes Australia Scotch’s eighth most valuable export market.

Betts added: “Over the years, the global success of Scotch has been built on the hard work of such early entrepreneurs as Tommy Dewar, Johnnie Walker, James Chivas and others in the 19th century who travelled the world creating a huge global market for our national drink. What we have seen in the early part of the 21st century is a new generation of whisky entrepreneurs who are taking Single Malts and premium blends to the modern consumer, following in the footsteps of these industry giants.

“This year presents a series of opportunities to support this new wave of dynamism. If we can get Brexit right for Scotch both at home and in our export markets around the world, the future for Scotch Whisky, in 2018 and beyond, looks bright.”