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Whisky sales continue to rise

By Alistair Whitfield

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SCOTCH whisky's contribution to the UK economy has risen by a dramatic10 per cent within the past two years.

With several distilleries opening new visitors centres and exports continuing to grow, the industry is now worth £5.5billion, according to research by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

This success comes despite the UK having the fourth highest duty rates within the EU.

Karen Betts, the SWA's chief executive, said: "Despite the challenges of Brexit, this investment continues to flow, with further projects planned and more distilleries set to open – a sign that the Scotch Whisky industry remains confident about the future.

"This is great news for our many employees, our investors, our supply chain and, of course, for consumers all over the world who love Scotch.

"This report also highlights the high rate of domestic tax that Scotch Whisky faces in the UK.

"In the US, Scotch and other whiskies are taxed at just over a quarter of the rate that HM Treasury taxes us here at home.

"We will continue to press the Chancellor for fairer treatment for Scotch Whisky in our domestic market, which reflects the vital economic contribution the industry makes to the UK economy every day.”

The SWA says whisky provides £3.8billion directly to Scotland – more than double than life sciences (£1.5billion).

This figure is helped by regulations that requires all Scotch to be distilled and matured for at least three years within the country.

The SWA adds that the industry helps support more than 42,000 jobs across the UK, including 10,500 people directly in Scotland, and 7,000 in rural communities.

In the light of the report's findings, politicians from both Westminster and Holyrood praised the industry's continuing success.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick MP said: "I’m delighted to see how this important sector is thriving.

"We are supporting the Scotch Whisky success story by freezing duty on spirits again this year.

"Our record of reductions and freezes to alcohol duties have provided more than £4billion of support to the drinks sector here in the UK."

Meanwhile, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said: "I welcome the contribution that the Scotch Whisky industry makes to the Scottish Economy.

"The industry's performance is testament to the hard work of those who work in this important sector, making Scotch Whisky one of Scotland's greatest global exports."

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