SCOTCH whisky creates almost £5bn a year for the UK economy, according to new research.
The study, commissioned by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), also found that the industry supports more than 40,000 jobs across Britain, including 7,000 in rural areas.
It was also the biggest net contributor to the UK’s trade in goods in 2015, the report said.
The document, entitled The Economic Impact of Scotch Whisky Production in the UK, was published as people prepared to raise a dram to celebrate Burns Night.
The study said: ‘The Scotch whisky sector directly contributes over £3.2bn to the Scottish economy.
‘When indirect and induced effects are taken into consideration, the industry’s impact is £4.7bn.
‘The industry is rooted in Scotland, but benefits from a closely-related supply chain in the rest of the UK.
‘When the rest of the UK is taken into account, a further £268m is injected into the economy, leading to a UK-wide impact of more than £4.9bn.’
It adds that overall employment associated with Scotch whisky in the UK is just below 40,200, marginally up on previous figures.
Almost £1.3bn is paid in salaries north of the UK border.
The report found that the Scotch whisky sector is the largest net exporter of any British industry.
Exports of the spirit are worth £3.9bn each year, while imports in the supply chain, such as packaging for products and casks, total £200m giving a trade balance of £3.7bn. ‘In 2015, the UK exported more than £266bn worth of goods (excluding oil) and imported over £378bn, resulting in a trade deficit of almost £112bn,’ the research said.