Six Facts About The Scotch Whisky Industry

A report detailing the economic impact of Scotch Whisky production in the UK has been published this week by The Scotch Whisky Association. Some of the findings make for very interesting reading and highlight just how important this industry is to the UK economy. 


Scotch Industry


The Water of Life is injecting plenty of spirit into Britain’s GDP, with a staggering contribution of almost £5bn to the UK economy – up from £3.3bn in 2008. This kind of growth is widely predicted to continue as well, with demand for whisky around the world increasing all the time. We have picked out some of the most interesting facts uncovered by the report.

1. The Scotch Whisky industry is bigger than the UK’s iron and steel, textiles and computer industries

Scotch Whisky is big business and it continues to grow quickly, with a 27% growth since 2008. It is exported all over the world, and it outstrips all of the above as well as shipbuilding, glass and clothing industries. These exports have a huge impact on the UK’s balance of trade, without them it is estimated that the trade deficit would have been 16% larger in 2013.

2. Scotch Whisky accounts for almost three quarters of Scotland’s food and drink sector

Scotch has a huge impact on the Scottish economy; in terms of growth sectors only Finance & Insurance and Energy exceed its contribution to the Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Scottish economy.

Whisky also accounts for around 25% of food and drink exports in the UK as a whole; it makes a bigger economic contribution than other food and drink industries such as meat, fruit & vegetables, dairy, beer, chocolate and soft drinks.      

3. The industry supports more than 40,000 jobs in the UK

For every person directly employed by the Scotch Whisky industry, another 2.7 jobs are generated in the broader economy as part of the supply and distribution chain.

For each £1 of value added in the industry, this adds a further 52p of value in the broader economy. This translates to a payment trickle down whereby every £1 paid to workers in the whisky industry produces 35p of salary paid to other workers.

4. The economic impact spreads further than you might expect

The SWA report shows that the capital expenditure of the industry sits at £140m and around 70% of this is spent outwith Scotland. As the industry grows there is increased requirement for specialist equipment which cannot be produced locally. This means that a percentage of the money generated by the whisky industry provides benefit to a number of different economies across the globe. 

5. Salaries in the industry are among the highest average in the UK

The average salary for a worker in the Scotch Whisky industry is £47,000, which represents a 12% increase since 2008. This is higher than the average for most other industries in Scotland, the only exceptions being staff working in energy and life science industries. The median wage for an employee in the whisky industry is £50 higher each week than those in the financial and business services in Scotland.

6. The industry allows rural areas to thrive

Many of the most successful whisky distilleries are located in remote locations and often prove to be the lifeblood of the area. The SWA report estimates that around one in five workers in the Scotch Whisky industry are employed in rural communities. This equates to around 7400 jobs and £250 million of income being injected into these rural areas.

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