By SHAUN MILNE
SCOTLAND’S whisky exports are earning the UK a staggering £97 a second, it was revealed today (Friday).
The national drink has also set a new record of £3 BILLION sales in a year – working out at 1080 million bottles.
And a breakdown of figures shows the French apparently losing their thirst for wine and brandy and turning instead to the water of life with the value of exports there up a mouth-watering 22 per cent.
The figures, published for the Scotch Whisky Association, reveal exports of malt whisky for 2008 topped £497m – up 9% on the previous year.
Blended whiskies were also up 9% at £2.43 billion. Scotch Whisky Association chairman Paul Walsh said he was pleased by the figures.
He added: “Exports have proven to be resilient in the face of difficult economic conditions in a range of markets.
“To achieve record export value at such a time is quite an achievement and underscores just how important the industry is to the UK economy.
“I am convinced that the major investments made by distillers will stand us in good stead for the return to better economic times.
“As that happens whisky will play a leading role in exporting the economy out of recession.”
Chief Executive Gavin Hewitt was also bullish about the performance but called upon the Government to back the industry.
He said: “We are optimistic about Scotch whisky’s long term international prospects despite difficult market conditions in the year ahead.
“At a time of recession we look to the Government to work with us and to show its support for the industry at home and overseas.”
The value of exports was up despite the volume of sales being down slightly by five per cent.
Americans continue to spend the most on whisky with £371.4m in sales, but the French drink more than anyone with 159.8 million bottles sold there alone.
That compares to Australia where only 29.6 million bottles are sold, the same as in Greece.