Falling sales of Scotch to France and Spain led to a drop in the total volume of the whisky exported last year, which stalled after more than a decade of growth fuelled by its popularity in emerging markets.
The industry – which makes up three-quarters of Scotland’s food and drink exports and a quarter of the UK’s – suffered a 5 per cent decline in exports by number of units sold in 2012, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.
Compared with 2011 data, exports to France, by far the largest European consumer of the drink, dropped by 25 per cent after a new tax was introduced and shipments to Spain fell 20 per cent as the economic crisis dampened spirits.
But the value of exports edged up 1 per cent to reach £4.3bn – 87 per cent more than 10 years ago – as drinkers opted for more premium bottles. In 2012, shipments to India rose 5 per cent in volume, and 17 per cent in value.