Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:22 UK

Scotch whisky exports reach record high in 2009

Whisky bottles
Scotch whisky is growing in popularity in Brazil and the USA

Exports of Scotch whisky reached a record high last year, despite the economic downturn in some major markets.

Figures show the amount of whisky being shipped abroad increased by 4% worldwide during 2009.

The value of these exports rose by 3% to reach about £3.1bn, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Paul Walsh, chairman of the SWA, said the figures showed the importance of Scotch whisky to the UK economy.

The SWA said there had been a slow start to 2009, partly due to weaker consumer confidence.

But an "impressive" export performance was reported during the second half of the year.

Scotch whisky distillers have delivered record exports in the face of a global economic downturn
Paul Walsh
Scotch Whisky Association

The USA remained Scotch whisky's largest export market by value, with an increase of 13% last year.

The drink is also enjoying increasing popularity in Brazil, where the value of exports grew by 44%.

However in Spain, the third biggest market, the value of exports fell by 5%.

'Leading export'

An extra 3% - or £71m - of blended Scotch was exported last year, compared to 2008, while malt Scotch whisky shipments rose by 1%, or £4m.

Mr Walsh said: "Scotch whisky distillers have delivered record exports in the face of a global economic downturn.

"The industry is continuing to invest and sustain its efforts to secure fair access to export markets."

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the SWA, added: "As one of the UK's leading manufactured exports, all political parties should recognise and support the Scotch whisky industry, both at home and abroad, during the next Parliament."

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