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Economic contribution

The Scotch Whisky Association estimates that the Scotch whisky industry’s contribution to the economy was £3.3 billion in 2013. This estimate suggests that the industry is bigger than the UK steel industry or the UK shipbuilding industry.

Turnover of the Scotch whisky industry in 2013 was £5 billion. It is estimated that Scotch whisky producers spend £1.4 billion on suppliers based in Scotland.

[Source: SWA, The economic impact of Scotch whisky production in the UK, 2015 p3,6. Economic contribution is Gross Value Added]


In Scotland, estimates suggest that the Scotch whisky industry directly employs 11,000 people. In the UK as a whole, this figure rises to 13,000 jobs directly reliant on the industry.

[Source: SWA, The economic impact of Scotch whisky production in the UK, 2015 p3]


Production of malt Scotch whisky has increased steadily over the last few years and 285 million LPA were produced in 2014. Malt Scotch whisky accounts for just under half of all Scotch whisky production.

[Source: SWA, Statistical report 2014, p3; LPA is litres of pure alcohol]


Scotch whisky exports were worth £3.9 billion in 2014, 1.4% of total UK exports. However, this is 80% of Scotland’s and 25% of the UK’s total food and drink exports.

The trade surplus (exports minus imports) for Scotch whisky is the second highest of any good exported from the UK. The SWA estimates that the UK’s overall trade deficit would be 16% higher without Scotch whisky exports.

[Source: SWA, The economic impact of Scotch whisky production in the UK, 2015 p14]


There were 1.1 million visits to Scotch whisky distilleries in 2013 involving 20% of visitors to Scotland. Visiting distilleries was one of the top 20 activities undertaken by tourists in Scotland.

Among overseas visitors to Scotland, visiting distilleries was most popular among German visitors, 43% of whom participated. The European average was 34% and 32% of US visitors visited a distillery.

[Source: Visit Scotland, Whisky tourism: facts and insights, March 2015]

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