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​Whisky Leads UK Drinks Exports to Remarkable 13% Gain

​Whisky Leads UK Drinks Exports to Remarkable 13% Gain

Posted by News on 12th Dec 2023

The UK's drinks exports have experienced a robust 13% increase, reaching £9.4 billion, primarily driven by the whisky sector. This growth has been notably influenced by the rising preference for "status" brands among young professionals. According to Hazlewoods, a firm of business advisers and accountants, the total value of drinks exports in the year ending July 31 surged from the previous year's £8.3 billion.

Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown (43983940201) Markus Trienke, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wh whisky has been a standout performer in this export landscape, accounting for two-thirds of the total exports, valued at £6.32 billion. Meanwhile, gin and beer contributed £680 million and £486 million, respectively. Rebecca Copping, a partner at Hazlewoods, highlights that the allure of heritage brands is a key factor driving this demand among young, affluent consumers. "British heritage brands have successfully positioned themselves as luxury items in the international drinks market," she states. "A significant part of this success is due to young, wealthy consumers who are drawn to quality drinks brands as symbols of status and success."

Interestingly, whisky is the UK's largest food and drink export by value, predominantly led by the Scotch industry. Despite a 3.6% decline in exports during the first half of 2023 as reported by the Scotch Whisky Association, the overall performance remains strong, particularly when considering the broader UK market, including brands like Penderyn from Wales.

The EU remains a significant market, with whisky exports valued at £1.72 billion, followed by gin and beer at £300 million and £278 million, respectively. Key markets like France, Germany, Spain, and Poland are among the top ten in volume. Beyond the EU, whisky exports to countries like the USA, India, and Singapore have been particularly strong. The USA is the leading market, with sales reaching £1.09 billion. Meanwhile, exports to India and Singapore have sharply increased, totalling £244 million and £401 million, respectively.

Glenfiddich Still Room miketnorton, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scotch industry has been vocal about the need to address the 150% tariff imposed by India on whisky imports, which makes it significantly more expensive than local Indian spirits. Copping adds, "While whisky is a major player in the increase in exports, this is also a success story for UK brands focusing on gin and other spirits. The heritage image and luxury branding are what attract many consumers, especially in growing markets like India and Singapore."

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