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In 2023, UK exports in whisky and gin saw a 13% growth, reaching £9.4 billion. This increase is largely driven by young professionals who are opting for high-end brands to demonstrate “status and success”.

A recent study by Hazlewoods, a group of chartered accountants and business advisers, has identified that these liquors are the UK’s leading food and drink export in terms of value.

Rebecca Copping, associate partner at Hazlewoods, said that despite volatility in the economy and high-interest rates around much of the globe, consumer spending on luxury goods has ‘held up well’.”

Copping noted the successful positioning of British heritage brands as luxury items in the international drinks market. 

She said, “A large chunk of this success is due to young, wealthy consumers purchasing quality drinks brands that signify status and success.”

The firm also reported a sharp increase in exports to countries such as India and Singapore in the last year. Notably, in 2022, India emerged as the largest global market by volume for the Scotch Whisky industry, largely due to the “premium image” that attracts wealthier Indian consumers.

Whisky stands as the UK’s most significant food and drink export by value. The Scottish Whiskey Association’s figures suggest that the industry aims to boost exports by an additional £1 billion over the next five years.

However, Hazelwood has indicated that this growth will “depend heavily” on the outcome of a UK-India free trade agreement, particularly concerning the 150% tariff on Scotch Whisky imports into India, which significantly increases its cost compared to Indian whiskies.

Copping said, “While whisky is playing a huge role in the export increase, this is also a success story for UK drinks brands that focus on gin and other spirits. It’s the heritage image and luxury branding that draws in a lot of consumers, especially those in growing markets like India and Singapore.”