The Scotch Whisky Association is toasting a record year for Scotch around the world.

The SWA today (4 April) posted figures showing a bumper year in 2006. Scotch Whisky exports were up in volume terms by 4% year-on-year in 2006, the SWA said. In value terms, shipments hit a record high of GBP2.5bn (US$4.94bn), with "encouraging growth" for both bottled malt exports - up 7% to GBP408m - and blended Scotch - up 4% to GBP1.92bn.

"We're seeing exciting broad-based growth for Scotch," a spokesperson for the association told just-drinks today. The spokesperson pointed to a 24% lift in shipments to Central and South America with exports to North America rising by 6%.

Closer to home, however, shipments to the EU were up only 0.2% in value terms. Shipments to Spain slid in 2006, the spokesperson conceded, thanks in part to new drink-driving restrictions and changes in excise, which were introduced in the Autumn of 2005.

Another market that underperformed was South Korea, which, despite a 12% slide in value terms, remains a top four market for Scotch. The ongoing problems in India led to a 6% fall in Scotch shipments in 2006. "Growing international pressure on India to comply with the World Trade Organisation means that the clock is ticking now," the spokesperson said.

High hopes remain in place for markets in central and Eastern Europe, the spokesperson said, highlighting recent EU accession of several countries as levelling the playing field. In particular, the spokesperson was keen to proffer Poland and Turkey as two markets that could provide growth going forward.