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Scotch whisky grows in UK market

By Rachel Arthur+

23-Feb-2017
Last updated on 23-Feb-2017 at 10:27 GMT2017-02-23T10:27:02Z

Pic:iStock
Pic:iStock

The number of 70cl Scotch Whisky bottles released for sale in the UK in the first three quarters of 2016 totalled 57.2 million, up 5.6% from the same period in 2015, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) says this builds on growth in demand seen in 2015, which was the first period of growth in the UK since 2010.

It also highlights the increased activity in distilleries: 14 Scotch distilleries have opened since 2013, eight are set to start producing this year, and some 40 new products are in planning and development.

However, the figures compare less favorably to 10 years ago: fewer bottles were sold in the first nine months of last year than in the same period in 2016, with 62.6 million bottles released for sale at that time.

The SWA says a strong UK market is vital, particularly for new entrants to the industry.

Scotch exports and Brexit

The SWA is calling on the government to cut excise duty on spirits by 2% in the UK Budget on March 8.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive, SWA, said, "The UK is one of the biggest markets for Scotch in the world: but it is fragile and competitive, particularly in the context of Brexit.

"The tax treatment of Scotch in its home market also has repercussions for our export performance. If overseas governments see Scotch being treated unfairly in the UK that could influence their decisions.

“This makes it harder to ensure a level playing field for Scotch overseas at a time when we must grow our exports to make a success of Brexit."

The SWA says the current level of tax of 77% on an average bottle of Scotch is too high, adding that a reduction in tax for whisky could boost spirits revenue to the Treasury. A 2% cut in 2015 resulted in an increase in spirits revenue in 2015/16 by £123m ($153m) to £3.15bn ($3.93bn), it says.

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