Scotch malt whisky exports soared worldwide last year, with over 55m bottles of malt shipped overseas, according to export figures for 2004 released today by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Bottled malt whisky exports grew by 15% in value compared with the previous year, topping £350m globally for the first time. The volume of 'bottled in Scotland' malt whisky sent overseas grew by 12% (+6.1m bottles), with bottled blends also up 1% (+9.2m bottles).
 
Total Scotch exports, however, fell both in volume and value terms. Exports broke the £2bn barrier for the twelfth year in succession, with over £2.2bn worth of whisky shipped overseas. However, overall volume (-2%) and value (-6%) were down on 2003, when the industry recorded its second best ever performance, reflecting lower bulk whisky shipments, as well as difficult economic conditions in certain key markets. South Korea alone accounted for 40% of the fall in value.
 
Announcing the figures, Ian Good, SWA chairman, said today: "Double-digit growth for 'bottled in Scotland' malt whisky around the world, and an increase in bottled blend shipments, is good news for distillers and the Scottish jobs that depend on the industry. Consumers are looking for variety, flavour and authenticity when they buy and these are qualities Scotch whisky has in abundance.   
 
"While exports overall have fallen on 2003, this was expected in the face of difficult economic conditions in certain key markets, and Scotch whisky exports remain at a historically high level."

Good said: "It has been a solid year for Scotch whisky exports and I continue to be greatly encouraged by Scotch's popularity worldwide - it has been a record year in China and the US, and more consumers are choosing Scotch in markets as diverse as Brazil, Russia, and India. We can look to the future with confidence."
 
The 2004 figures revealed it had been a record year in China, with exports increasing by 165% in value to over £25m. Five years ago, Scotch exports to China were worth around £1m. There was also a surge of interest in Scotch in other emerging markets such as Brazil (+9% in value), Russia (+29%), and Turkey (+18%).
 
France, the industry's largest market by volume, grew by both volume (+2%) and value (+7%). However, exports to both Spain (-10% in value) and Greece (-17%) were down on 2003, following market stock level adjustments.
 
The US remained the industry's most valuable export market, with the value of Scotch whisky shipped increasing by 3% to £338m. This was a record for Scotch in the US, despite lower volumes (-4%), illustrating the premium nature of the market.
 
Encouragingly, the home market for Scotch whisky grew by 0.3%, driven by a 9% increase in malt whisky clearances. The UK market accounted for over 114m bottles.