Chilean whisky imports are set to rise this year as a result of the government's decision to reduce duty on whisky to the same level as that of the national spirit pisco.

Key whisky importer Distribuidora Errázuriz believes whisky imports will rise 5% in 2003, according to manager Jean Marc Van Kilsdonk. The importer also expects whisky imports to surge still further over the next few years, from around 350,000 cases in 2003 to 500,000 cases in 2006.

This is still significantly below the levels of whisky imports in the 1970s, when the Chilean economy was booming and the country imported around one million cases per year.

"Chileans have always loved whisky, like all Latin Americans, but at one point they began to realise that prices were very high and this image stuck, even though the situation has since changed totally," Van Kilsdonk said.