Scotch Whisky Economic Facts & Figures

Scotch Whisky is the world's number one internationally traded spirit with exports worth over £4bn annually. 41 bottles of Scotch Whisky are shipped every second to 175 global markets, totalling more than 1.2bn bottles each year.

Scotch Whisky Key Markets

  • 41 bottles of Scotch Whisky are shipped from Scotland to 175 markets around the world each second, totalling over 1.2bn every year

  • Laid end to end those bottles would stretch about 350,000kms - that's 90% of the distance to the moon!

  • Scotch Whisky exports are worth £4.7bn

  • Scotch Whisky accounts for 70% of Scottish food and drink exports, 21% of all UK food and drink exports, and 1.3% of all UK exports

  • The Scotch Whisky industry provides £5.5bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy

  • More than 10,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch Whisky industry in Scotland and over 40,000 jobs across the UK are supported by the industry

  • 7,000 of these jobs in rural areas of Scotland providing vital employment and investment to communities across the Highlands and Islands

  • There are 2 million visits to Scotch Whisky distilleries a year, making the industry the third most popular tourist attraction in Scotland

  • Some 20 million casks lie maturing in warehouses in Scotland waiting to be discovered

  • To be called Scotch Whisky, the spirit must mature in oak casks in Scotland for at least 3 years

  • There are currently 128 operating Scotch Whisky distilleries across Scotland

Economic Importance

"In value Scotch Whisky is bigger than the UK’s iron/steel, textiles, shipbuilding, or computer industries; about half the size of the UK’s pharmaceuticals or aerospace industries; and one third the size of the entire UK car industry."

Scotch Whisky adds £3.3 billion directly and its total impact adds nearly £5bn overall to UK GDP. Every £1 of value added in the industry produces another £0.52 of value in the broader economy. In other words every £1 million of value added in the industry produces another £520,000 of value in the broader economy. The industry is the UK’s largest single food and drink sector. It accounts for 25% of the UK’s food and drink exports.

The Scotch Whisky industry has direct, indirect, and induced impacts on the UK economy. Direct impacts measure the impact generated directly by the industry. Indirect impacts capture the employment and value generated by the links between businesses in the Scotch Whisky supply chain (for example, distillery purchases of cereals or transport services) and by capital spending. Induced effects arise through the spending of workers in the industry or the supply chain (for example, workers in a bottling plant support jobs on the high street of their local town when they spend their salaries). 2.5 Taking all these impacts together, the Scotch Whisky industry adds around £5bn of value to the UK economy, supports 40,300 jobs, and supports salaries of £1.4bn to UK workers.

In its direct impact, the Scotch Whisky industry adds value of nearly £3.3bn to the economy, employs 10,900 workers, and generates £520m in salaries for its employees. In indirect and induced impacts, the industry adds £1.7bn in value, supports 29,400 jobs, for example across the supply chain in areas such as packaging, and generates £875m in salaries. 2.6 Most of this economic impact is felt within Scotland but a significant minority falls to the rest of the UK. 95% of the value added (£4.7bn) falls to the Scottish economy, 5% to the rest of the UK (£300m). 89% of the salaries paid fall to Scottish workers (£1,245m), 11% to workers elsewhere in the UK (£150m). About 92% of the jobs supported (37,000) are within Scotland, a further 8% (3,300) within the rest of the UK.

You can read the full Economic Report here, published by The Scotch Whisky Association.