Asia and the Americas drove a surge in Scotch whisky exports last year, according to industry figures published today (23 March).

The value of Scotch exports rose 4% to GBP2.4bn (US$4.2bn) in 2005 with malt shipments up 8% and exports of blended Scotch up 4%. Exports rose 4% in volume terms to an estimated 990m bottles, the Scotch Whisky Association said.

Soaring demand in China and Thailand drove a growth in shipments to Asia, which rose by 24%. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan also rose with the two markets entering the top five destinations for Scotch.

The US remained the industry's largest market by value but there was a turnaround in fortunes in South America. Exports there rose 19%, driven by increased shipments to Brazil and Venezuela.

A slowdown in exports to the EU tempered the joy at the results. Overall exports to the EU fell 11% with a tax hike dampening demand in Spain. Exports to France, however, were up 3%.

Nevertheless, SWA chairman Richard Burrows welcomed the figures pointing to a "renaissance" of Scotch on international markets.

He added: "The geographic diversity of growth is notable.  We believe Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas all offer further strong opportunities for the Scotch whisky industry to build on the worldwide growth in bottled in Scotland malt and blended Scotch whisky brands."