More distilleries now operating across Scotland than in past 70 years, say SWA

There are now more distilleries operating across Scotland than at any time over the past seventy years, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has revealed.

Published 5th Sep 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The statistic, which was used to highlight the success story that is the Scotch whisky industry, was announced in a speech at a reception at the Scottish Parliament on 4th September.

MSPs joined industry leaders to celebrate the fact that global demand for Scotch is higher than ever before, with the latest figures released by the SWA revealing that there are now 128 distillers operating across Scotland’s five different whisky  regions, the most since the end of the Second World War.

The announcement is the latest record broken by the Scotch Whisky industry. Earlier this year, the SWA announced the industry’s highest ever exports figures – with more than £4.37bn in exports being sent to over 180 countries across the globe, as well as the record numbers of tourists visiting Scotch whisky distillery visitor centres, with more than 1.9 million visits taking place in 2017.

Speaking at the Holyrood event, Karen Betts, CEO at the SWA, said: “This is great news for the Scotch Whisky industry, as well as the Scottish economy.

“As Scotland’s largest manufactured export, supporting more than 40,000 jobs – 7,000 of which are located in rural Scotland – it’s imperative that the government ensures that the right conditions are in place for distilleries to invest and capitalise on the growing popularity of Scotch right across the globe.

“With £3 in every £4 of a bottle of Scotch being collected in duty and VAT, Scotland’s national drink is already one of the highest taxed consumer goods in the UK – more than any other alcoholic product.

“That is why we are asking the Chancellor to signal his support for our national drink by delivering an excise freeze in the Autumn Budget to help encourage investment within Scotland and help make Scotch more competitive on the domestic playing field.”

MSP for Moray, Richard Lochhead, who hosted the event at the Scottish Parliament, said: “The Scotch Whisky industry continues to set records this year, with record exports, record tourism numbers and now a post-war record for operating distilleries.

“My constituency is home to two out of every five operating Scotch Whisky distilleries, so I know how each of the new distilleries across Scotland will bring vital investment and employment to communities, especially in rural areas.

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“I will continue to do what I can to help the Scotch industry go from strength to strength, but this must be matched by action in the Autumn Budget. It is vital that there is a freeze on excise duty for Scotch Whisky so that all distilleries, new and historic, have a competitive platform to grow from.”

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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